Book review: Practical Analysis of Aircraft Composites

Resource book by Brian Esp, Ph.D. provides practical application of theory for engineers working with aircraft composites.


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Being the newest member of the editorial team at CompositesWorld, I jumped at the chance to review the recently published “Practical Analysis of Aircraft Composites,” (Grand Oak Publishing) by Brian Esp, Ph.D. My interest in the book was driven by wanting to learn as much about the industry as quickly as I can. It also drew my interest because of my editorial background – I’ve edited textbooks on a wide range of topics over the past 10 years. So, I know what makes for a good reference book.

Approaching Esp’s book from this point of view, I found a text that was surprisingly approachable for one that delves into such complex subject matter. This stems from the book’s premise which promises a practical application of theory. Esp sets up his text with a clear foundation that covers how composites behave, analysis methods, mechanical properties and aspects of design.

The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 covers practical analysis methods for composites, which are often empirical. In other words, composites are less predictable than metals and therefore analysis means testing at various stages. Esp’s approach is grounded in the understanding that composites require a validated analysis method. The book primarily deals with laminates consisting of carbon fiber reinforcement and an epoxy matrix, but many of the solutions presented are appropriate for other composite materials. Early chapters offer the reader an approachable foundation in the basic mechanics of laminated fabrics, making this a good academic text – not only for aircraft composites, but for other advanced composites applications.

Of course, the book is meant as a resource for those working with aircraft composites and the focus zeros in on those applications. Part 2 delves into requirements and substantiation for composite aircraft structures and covers such topics as fatigue, static strength requirements, damage tolerance and durability.

Ultimately while “Practical Analysis of Aircraft Composites” is meant as a reference for practicing engineers, sections of the text – particularly in the first section – serve as a good foundation for students and those working in other areas of the composites industry.

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