Composites are becoming increasingly important in the aerospace industry. At least 30–40 per cent of modern airframes are now made of composites, and this percentage is increasing rapidly due to technological advances in the field. Fibre-reinforced polymer composite materials are fast gaining ground as preferred materials for construction of aircrafts and space crafts. This paper gives a review of some of these developments with a discussion of the problems with the present generation composites and prospects for further developments. Although several applications in the aerospace vector are mentioned, the emphasis of the review is on applications of composites as structural materials where they have seen a significant growth in usage. A brief review of composites usage in aerospace sector is given first. The nature of composite materials and special problems in designing and working with them are then highlighted. The issues discussed relate to the impact damage and damage tolerance in general, environmental degradation and long-term durability.
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