Acoustic emission (AE) was monitored in notched full-scale honeycomb sandwich composite curved fuselage panels
during loading. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the AE technique as a tool for detecting notch tip damage
initiation and evaluating damage severity in such structures. This evaluation was a part of a more general study on the
damage tolerance of six honeycomb sandwich composite curved panels, each containing a different damage scenario.
The overall program objective was to investigate the effects of holes and notches on residual strength. The investigation
was conducted using the Full-Scale Aircraft Structural Test Evaluation and Research (FASTER) facility located at the
Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport, NJ. This
paper reports on the AE results recorded during the loading to failure of two selected panels. The results show that
damage initiation at the tips of the notches, and its progression along the panel, could be detected and located. These AE
results were correlated with the deformation and strain fields measured through strain photogrammetry, throughout
loading, at the vicinity of these notches. This correlation aided in interpreting the AE results. While the fretting among
the newly created fracture surfaces generated a large number of
low-intensity AE signals, the high-intensity signals
generated at high load levels provided a good measure for anticipating incipient fracture. Further, the AE results located
internal disbonding caused during panel fabrication. The large number of low-intensity AE signals generated from the
disbonded regions was associated with the fretting among the disbonded surfaces.