Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Automising the aircraft engine inspection process

Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft engine components is very important to aircraft safety and reliability. Although improvements have been realised in automation of individual steps, much of the process was still carried out manually – until major improvements were made by EU-funded researchers.
Automising the aircraft engine inspection process
The ‘Automated repair and overhaul system for aero turbine engine components’ (Arosatec) project was initiated to improve existing MRO methods by integrating state-of-the-art adaptive machining technology and by developing a software platform for data management.

The researchers started out by identifying current technologies and gaps in desired capabilities in order to define project objectives and then made significant improvements to the repair process. They enhanced the laser scanning technology used to inspect parts and the laser welding used to repair parts. In addition, they incorporated adaptive (so-called ‘intelligent’) machining to precisely detect the position of the part for comparison with healthy parts and with its condition during the previous MRO. In parallel, they created a data management system constituting the core of the automated MRO system for aircraft engine parts.

After integrating the automised MRO processes with the data management system, the Arosatec system conducted an inspection with the improved laser scanner inspecting an incoming cleaned blade. The scanned part was then represented as a three-dimensional (3D) object and compared to computer-aided design (CAD) data to identify and localise damage on the scanned part. Much like treating a cavity, the damaged section was milled out and built up again using laser welding. The precise positioning required to ensure the scanned image is overlaid with other images was carried out by advanced adaptive machining.

Aside from the monumental improvements in the MRO process based on automation and electronic data storage, individual developments such as the laser scanner, scanning strategies and laser welders are already being implemented in other projects. The XML-based data modules and enhancements in milling processes will also be used in future research.

In summary, the Arosatec project contributed important new equipment and software for automisation of the MRO processes of aircraft engine components. In addition, the individual innovations have found use in numerous other projects. The project outcomes should help decrease cost and increase efficiency and safety related to aircraft MRO, increasing both the financial competitiveness and perceived safety of the European aircraft industry at a time of heightened global travel combined with increased safety concerns.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top