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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1092701, 12 pages
Research Article

Numerical and Experimental Investigation on the Structural Behaviour of a Horizontal Stabilizer under Critical Aerodynamic Loading Conditions

1Department of Chemical, Materials and Production Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, P.le V. Tecchio 80, 80125 Naples, Italy
2Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II 132, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
3Department of Industrial and Information Engineering, Università della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Via Roma 29, 81031 Aversa, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to R. Sepe

Received 4 March 2017; Revised 3 June 2017; Accepted 18 June 2017; Published 27 July 2017

Academic Editor: Paulo M. S. T. De Castro

Copyright © 2017 R. Sepe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The aim of the proposed research activity is to investigate the mechanical behaviour of a part of aerospace horizontal stabilizer, made of composite materials and undergoing static loads. The prototype design and manufacturing phases have been carried out in the framework of this research activity. The structural components of such stabilizer are made of composite sandwich panels (HTA 5131/RTM 6) with honeycomb core (HRH-10-1/8-4.0); the sandwich skins have been made by means of Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process. In order to assess the mechanical strength of this stabilizer, experimental tests have been performed. In particular, the most critical inflight recorded aerodynamic load has been experimentally reproduced and applied on the stabilizer. A numerical model, based on the Finite Element Method (FEM) and aimed at reducing the experimental effort, has been preliminarily developed to calibrate amplitude, direction, and distribution of an equivalent and simpler load vector to be used in the experimental test. The FEM analysis, performed by using NASTRAN code, has allowed modelling the skins of the composite sandwich plates by definition of material properties and stack orientation of each lamina, while the honeycomb core has been modelled by using an equivalent orthotropic plate. Numerical and experimental results have been compared and a good agreement has been achieved.