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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials




Springer New York LLC

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Journal Article Version

Accepted Manuscript

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Lightning damage to composite aircraft structures results from a concurrent and sequential interaction between arc discharge multi-physics and the anisotropic electrical and thermal composite properties. In this study, the impact of nominal 50 and 125 kA lightning strikes on damage formation in a carbon-epoxy Pultruded Rod Stitched Efficient Unitized Structure (PRSEUS) was investigated. A combination of visual inspection, ultrasonic phased array testing, destructive sectioning, and various microscopy techniques was employed to characterize the damage. Localized damage, including severe matrix decomposition, melting of polyester warp-knitting yarns, fiber splitting, and large-scale delamination, was confined to the immediate vicinity of the lightning attachment point and was accompanied by more diffuse surface damage (i.e., widespread small-scale split fiber tufts and surface primer scorching). The severity and extent of internal damage increased with higher lightning current intensities but was limited to the outermost nine-ply warp-knitted skin stack. Electrically non-conductive through-thickness Vectran™ stitches and polyester warp-knitting yarns had a profound effect in mitigating lightning damage formation. These results suggest that such through-thickness reinforcement can dramatically enhance the lightning damage resistance and tolerance of composite aircraft structures.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

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