Although and authors representing a wide range

Although largely unacknowledged,
fire safety deliberations are fundamental in the design, manufacture and maintenance
of aircraft in the aerospace industry. Relevant to subsequent work presented
later in this research – the following chapter is separated into six
subdivisions (1) fire safety within the aerospace industry, (2) the future of
CFRP in aircraft structures, (3) a material overview, (4) residual structural
properties of CFRP in fire, (5) post-fire mechanical models, and finally (6)
summaries and conclusions of this chapter.

1.1  Fire Safety
within the Aerospace Industry

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Exponential growth in the
manufacture of composites within aircraft structures have primarily been
motivated by the needs to reduce weight, improve the energy efficiency and
sustainability of aircraft, this in addition to improving structural and
material creativity whilst not undermining the rigidity, corrosion resistance
and strength to weight ratio. Preferably, the vast array of stakeholders in
aircraft development, design, manufacture and maintenance (i.e. Aircraft
owners, aviation engineers, structural engineers and technicians) function
largely with a dynamic and flexible working environment which permits iterative
process in openly knowledge driven and cognitive dialogue.

Fire safety systems and design for
the aerospace industry have traditionally been based on the concept of
“compliance”, whereas design of individual structural safety elements and fire
prevention devices (i.e. sprinklers, smoke detectors, foam & inert gas
suppression systems) are required to be able to comply with vital safety standards
set in place through ASTM, and their thorough acceptability criteria published
annually. Consequently, the fallout from this is sub-standard designs and
inadequacies. A much broader view of safety designs on board aircraft is
presented by (REF). This idea is commonly not unique to fire safety designs of
aircraft, as other institutions and authors representing a wide range of
different research goals have extensively reflected upon the current state and
potential benefits of furthering research in this area and integrating current
approaches to the design of material optimisation, sustainability and energy
reduction for aircraft (REF X 3).

The current Aerospace industry has
“concluded” many of the problems through its capability to work within a
structure by which manufacturers along with structural and material engineers
(whether knowingly aware of it or not), have at their disposal – the means by
which to design, with no rational engineering judgement (or having very
little), the tools to appropriately implement design elements within aircraft
structures that comply with published stringent fire safety criterion, and its
performance by the appropriate regulatory authority (I.e. ASTM). Because of
this, the fire safety community whose emphasis is proportionally that of materials
and  structural integrity , have
particularly since the 1960’s (when composites in the aerospace industry were
first introduced), dedicated a lot of their effort, energy and resources into producing,
supporting and implementing so-called performance based techniques for
structural fire safety engineering and its design (REF), again in stark
contrast with the initial development of the more science based design tools.
(REF)

Notwithstanding the dedication,
energy and determination expended, the limitations of designing and
manufacturing Aerospace materials it is essential  for recognising and  accepting a level of aircraft safety as that demonstrated
by innumerable structural safety elements of aircraft in fire safety resistance
tests and procedures used to date, these simply result in “refined” tools being
implemented to design aircraft safety systems criterion – i.e. design a wing
manufactured from pre-preg CFRP with a goal to achieve a prescribed time of
complete fire resilience during a fire resistance test, this rather than
designing a CFRP prepreg to perform “satisfactory or very good” in its
performance tests during a real fire.

The following subsections provide
an insight and its context for the current research via briefly explaining the
early developments and the evolution of structural fire testing and the
aerospace industry – this section will show how these early developments in
fire safety led to the current status quo of fire resistance test on CFRP and
FRP.