Carbon fiber laminate composites, consisting of layers of polymer matrix reinforced with high strength carbon fibers, are
increasingly employed for aerospace structures. They offer advantages for aerospace applications, e.g., good strength to
weight ratio. However, impact during the operation and servicing of the aircraft can lead to barely visible and difficult to
detect damage. Depending on the severity of the impact, fiber and matrix breakage or delaminations can occur, reducing
the load carrying capacity of the structure. Efficient structural health monitoring of composite panels can be achieved
using guided ultrasonic waves propagating along the structure. Impact damage was induced in the composite panels
using standard drop weight procedures. The guided wave scattering at the impact damage was measured using a
noncontact laser interferometer, quantified, and compared to baseline measurements on undamaged composite panels.
Significant scattering of the first anti-symmetrical (A0) guided wave mode was observed, allowing for the detection of
barely visible impact damage. The guided wave scattering was modeled using full three-dimensional Finite Element (FE)
simulations, and the influence of the different damage mechanisms investigated. Good agreement between experiments
and predictions was found. The sensitivity of guided waves for the detection of barely visible impact damage in
composite panels has been verified.