Technical Discipline: Fatigue and Damage Tolerance

Fatigue and Damage Tolerance is a specialized discipline involving the assessment of the response of materials and structures to the aircraft and propulsion system mission cycles, most notably cyclic loading (i.e., the application of repeated or fluctuating stresses, strains, and stress intensities). This discipline is focused on improving design, manufacturing, certification, and continued operational safety by applying the principles of material science, fatigue and fracture mechanics to develop effective material characterization methods, design criteria, and life cycle management plans for critical aircraft, engine, and propeller components.

Key elements of this discipline include fatigue and fracture mechanics analysis supported by material testing, modeling, and probabilistic assessment. This versatile framework has a broad range of practical applications, including development of innovative certification methodologies and the qualification of new materials and manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing, aging aircraft, risk assessment, and field failure investigations. This discipline often requires interfacing with a number of adjacent technical areas, including Metallurgy, Advanced Composites, Nondestructive Inspections, Health Monitoring, Engine Dynamics, and Safety Analysis.

Michael Gorelik is FAA's Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Fatigue and Damage Tolerance. Dr. Gorelik can be contacted at

Last updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024