January 25, 2010 - Vol. 7-3

NIAR / NCAT to host FAA-sponsored composites maintenance and repair course online

Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) through the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) will host an on-line Composites Maintenance 

Technology course that will focus on critical composite materials maintenance and repair safety issues beginning March 1.


This course will provide students with an awareness of composite materials technology principles with a focus on repair and maintenance of composites and associated safety issues. The course can also be used to provide an introduction to other skill-building courses which are beyond the scope of this class. Sponsored by the FAA, the course was created through the collaboration of experts and composite materials organizations, assuring it is relevant to industry needs.


The course is hosted online, and students can participate in case study discussions at their convenience with various experts in the field. The typical student time commitment averages 70 hours over the eight-week period.


Upon completion of the online course, the principles learned can be applied in an optional three-day laboratory course, held at NIAR.


Course topics include:

  • Overview of the technology of composites used in aerospace
  • Teamwork and disposition of damaged composites
  • Damage detection and characterization:
    • Damage types and sources
    • Damage and repair inspection procedures
  • Repair processes:
    • Bolted composite repair
    • Bonded composites repair

The course is developed and instructed by Charles Seaton, who has more than 30 years of experience in aircraft design, manufacturing, and aircraft modification. Seaton received a Master of Science degree in Materials Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Business Administration from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Washington. He has taught and developed undergraduate on-line courses with Wichita State University, Edmonds Community College and DeVry University. He has also taught graduate-level management courses at the University of Dallas.


Additional aircraft composites maintenance experts will also participate in course discussions.


There will be two enrollment options for the course:

  • Intro to Composites Maintenance Technology online course (non-credit) $950
  • Intro to Composites Maintenance Technology online course (2 credit hours - WATC) $1,174

The dates and enrollment for the optional three-day Composite Composite Maintenance Technology lab will be available at the close of the online course. Additional prices for the Composite Maintenance Technology lab are:

  • Composite Maintenance Technology lab (non-credit) $1,000
  • Composite Maintenance Technology lab (2 credit hours - WATC) $1,224

Payment for the Composite Maintenance Technology lab will be taken at a later date.


To enroll visit www.niar.wichita.edu/webcourse. For more information contact Laura Rhoades at 316-978-3873.


Course Description

Development of this course was originally sponsored by the FAA and the commercial aerospace industry in order to provide a practical and balanced approach for a curriculum in composite materials maintenance, emphasizing safety issues. Experts from around the world through a variety of workshops were involved in establishing the course objectives and content of this course. The course has been adapted to an eight-week online format to make this important content readily available to students, and is administered through NIAR. After the online class, the online course may be supplemented by an optional 3-day awareness laboratory class whereby students can experience course principals in a hands-on environment.


The first two weeks of the online class is self-study, and students will become familiar with the fundamentals and nomenclature of composite materials, especially as applied to commercial aircraft. Successful completion of an open-book exam within the two week period, measured on a pass/fail basis, qualifies students to begin the six-week online course.


The six-week online course includes study materials and discussions in which students actively participate. The importance of various aspects of maintenance in order to maintain the same performance requirements as the base aircraft structure is presented. Guest experts, with many years of industry experience, will contribute to the discussions and provide meaningful and practical input. The class begins with teamwork and repair disposition, and the essential role of source documentation in repairs is discussed.  The next topic, damage detection and characterization, includes damage types and sources, and damage and repair inspection procedures. The course concludes with repair processes, and students will learn about bolted composite repair and composite laminate fabrication as applied to bonded composite repair. The laboratory provides practical, hands-on review of the principles learned during the online course, and students are introduced to the format, use, and importance of structural repair manuals.


Student expectations: Students require approximately 10 hours during the initial two-week online class, and 10 hours per week for the balance of the online curriculum, for a total of 70 hours. The discussions are asynchronous; students may select the time and place for participation which best suits their circumstances. Students must have internet connection, with high-speed capability recommended, but not required. For the optional three-day laboratory, students must arrange for travel expenses.

The National Institute for Aviation Research, an unincorporated division of Wichita State University, is a prestigious state-of-the-art aerospace research and development laboratory with global reach and expertise in research, design, testing, and certification. The Institute’s clientele includes many of the world’s aerospace manufacturers, NASA and the FAA. It is the largest aviation R&D academic institution in the United States.


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