Skip to main content

Cost reduction by advanced non-destructive inspection of aeronautical structures

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Tough test for better planes

With the increased costs associated with the purchase of new aircraft, many airline operators are compelled to extend the operating lifetimes of their current fleet. In doing so, a fast and reliable testing system is needed that minimises non-operational times but does not compromise the critical safety standards airlines demand.

Industrial Technologies

Non-destructive testing becomes a priority to airliners seeking to reduce operational costs as well as reducing the time an airplane spends on the ground out of circulation. Such testing methods need to validate the safety of the airplane, especially when the aircraft have been in operation for extended periods of time. To increase the performance and the safety standards of aircraft several different approaches where investigated. One of the approaches for example was that of utilising advanced materials for weight reduction and for lowering operational costs. Advanced non-destructive testing systems recently developed by the European aeronautical industry, were geared towards the three primary problematic areas uncounted in testing aircraft safety. The first area of attention revolved around reliable inspection methods for ageing aircraft. The second, developed a fast non-contact testing inspecting production and the third was a full field method for the in-service inspection of advanced materials. The development of these non-destructive testing methods involved testing a number of procedures, from studies of eddy currents, laser ultrasonics, thermography to the detection of corrosion, shearographic inspection of large composite components and ultrasonic evaluation of aerofoils. Every aspect of aircraft performance was evaluated under four various tasks, each with their own specific goals. For example, Task one, focused primarily on eddy current techniques, fuelled by the fact that such techniques could potentially solve urgent problems such as hidden fuselage cracks. Task four, for example, was based more on informatics, identifying the specific software and hardware requirements necessary for non-destructive testing diagnostic tools. It looked at such ideas as combining X-ray and infrared thermography inspection data with CAD data. Whilst further research or development is required, the results gained from these validation methods are already suitable for implementation, and the developers are currently looking for license agreements.

Discover other articles in the same domain of application