Presently it takes months for the OEM and/or Aircraft user to determine what damage their aircraft has sustained in its past operations. The data is collected via a flight data recorder. The data, once downloaded, is then compared to the data collected during flight test and other structural test conducted during certification. The flight test and other data was used to determine when structural components are scheduled for inspections and/or replacement once the aircraft enters into full time service.
As everyone knows, planes do not follow a scripted flight test plan on the daily flights. Some flights are subjected to more or less stresses then during flight test. They are also flown in different climate conditions. However, their maintenance and inspections schedules remain the same as though they did.
With the advent of the Integrated Health Usage Monitoring System (IHUMS), it is now possible to record and calculate the damage sustained by any aircraft after each flight rather then waiting months on actual usage versus basing repairs and replacements on the predetermined flight test data and number of take-offs and landings.
By integrating a couple of Stress and Strain Gauges to and existing suite along with the specific aircraft's Damage Index (DI) formula, it would be possible to effectively determine the damage sustained by an aircraft after each and every flight. Having this data available can assist and aircraft operator to both save on maintenance costs as well as diminish the chance for an unforeseen catastrophic accident.