Structural health monitoring (SHM) is being widely evaluated by the aerospace industry as a method to improve the safety and reliability of aircraft structures and also reduce operational cost. Built-in sensor networks on an aircraft structure can provide crucial information regarding the condition, damage state and/or service environment of the structure. Among the various types of transducers used for SHM, piezoelectric materials are widely used because they can be employed as either actuators or sensors due to their piezoelectric effect and vice versa. This paper provides a brief overview of piezoelectric transducer-based SHM system technology developed for aircraft applications in the past two decades. The requirements for practical implementation and use of structural health monitoring systems in aircraft application are then introduced. State-of-the-art techniques for solving some practical issues, such as sensor network integration, scalability to large structures, reliability and effect of environmental conditions, robust damage detection and quantification are discussed. Development trend of SHM technology is also discussed.
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