Nondestructive Testing for Aircraft Fatigue Analysis
In the aerospace industry, there are two major components to any aircraft fatigue inspection process: time and accuracy. In order to ensure safety while maintaining costs and reducing downtime, inspections and testing have to be fast and efficient without sacrificing accuracy or thoroughness.
This combination of benefits has led to a widespread embrace of nondestructive testing (NDT) for fatigue in both public and private aircraft. NDT testing can help reduce aircraft grounding by quickly detecting small problems before they turn into larger ones.
However, not all NDT solutions work the same. eddy current array (ECA) and phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) have been shown to be the two most efficient, thorough, cost-effective, and accurate tools for aircraft and aircraft components.
Fatigue in metal airframes most commonly manifests in cracks, which are often microscopic at first. In order to prevent these cracks from worsening, fatigue needs to be detected immediately. Eddy current and ultrasonic NDT methods can provide the path toward a more efficient and accurate flaw detection.
View a webinar on the top technologies for aircraft inspection.
Eddy Current Array Solutions for Aircraft Fatigue Testing
Eddy current NDT employs electromagnetic currents to create an accurate map of surface and subsurface materials. By inducing a current into the material, flaws and cracks can be spotted. Where there are irregularities in the current, there can be a flaw.
Read more about eddy current array solutions.
When it comes to conducting an inspection using eddy current array technology, there are several key components involved. Probes (and/or probe delivery systems) collect the actual data, and that data is sent to the instrumentation which creates the actual picture. High-powered intelligent software analyzes the results, giving the technician a quick and accurate picture of the surface.
Read more about eddy current array instrumentation.
Read more about eddy current software.
Read more about eddy current probe delivery.
Read more about eddy current probes.
Eddy current array is ideal for many types of aircraft fatigue testing and analysis, but it has to be on material that is already conductive. Eddy current array technology, can be used for:
- conductive coating thickness measurement
- corrosion detection
- detecting conductivity or permeability changes of ferrous or nonferrous materials (alloy sorting)
- fastener crack detection
- plate thickness measurement
- skin crack detection
Read more on how to conduct eddy current testing of aircraft.
Ultrasonic Testing Solutions for Aircraft Fatigue Analysis
Phased array ultrasonic testing is a versatile, adaptive, and relatively easy-to-use NDT methodology. In ultrasonic testing (UT), a high-frequency sound wave is introduced into the material. Any anomaly creates an “echo” which is translated into a visual by instrumentation and software.
See more about how ultrasonic testing works.
Ultrasonic testing equipment is widely used on a variety of different surfaces and geometries. There is a wide variety of tools that can quickly create hyper-accurate images of volumetric anomalies. Scanners, probes, and wedges allow technicians to easily adjust between the different shapes and angles found in aircraft and aircraft parts.
Scanners are especially useful and efficient for testing large-scale surfaces such as wings, making them extremely valuable for aircraft fatigue testing and analysis.
See more about ultrasonic testing equipment.
See more about ultrasonic testing software.
See more about ultrasonic testing scanners.
See more about ultrasonic testing probes and wedges.
Because phased array ultrasonic technology can be effective on composite materials, there is often more use in this area as compared to eddy current. Phased array ultrasonic technology can be used for:
- adhesive bond quality assessment
- corrosion detection
- delamination detection of coating
- fiber density variation determination
- plate thickness measurement
- porosity assessment
- void and foreign material assessment
- volumetric assessment of stress and damage conditions
Nondestructive Fatigue Testing and Analysis for the Commercial Aerospace Industry
Regardless of aircraft type—jets, single-engine private planes, cargo planes, spacecraft—testing for fatigue is of utmost importance. But, depending on the type of aircraft and its specific needs, technicians could potentially use either phased array ultrasound or eddy current array.
The most important aspect of commercial aircraft inspection is flaw detection; it promotes efficient preventative maintenance. With every flight representing a chance to increase a company’s revenue and profitability—and every delay a chip into that —keeping planes in the air is crucial.
Watch a webinar on improving flaw detection in the aerospace industry.
With the right NDT solutions, commercial airlines are able transport people and cargo on a regular schedule and reduce delays.
Nondestructive Aircraft Fatigue Testing and Analysis for Military and Defense Industry
The military and defense industry also relies on the use of NDT to keep its aircraft operating as safely and efficiently as possible.
Learn more about the role of nondestructive testing for military aircraft.
With so much dependent upon the results of an aircraft’s test, it is vital to expand the coverage area while reducing time spent on each inspection. However, reducing time shouldn’t mean a sacrifice in flaw detectability. The key is to use the right combination of technology and expertise for maximizing inspection capabilities.
Read a white paper about the signal to noise ratio in military aircraft.
The last thing someone operating a military aircraft wants to think about is the potential for undetected fatigue. By creating a truly effective testing system, you can grant them peace of mind and enable a mission-focused approach.
Employing Adequate NDT Solutions for Operational Success
For many industries, especially those operating aircraft, downtime can be the enemy. But, rushing through an inspection is far worse than delaying flight. In addition to the human danger of operating an unsafe aircraft, there are secondary dangers as well—operational issues, loss of consumer trust, or losing contracts, all of which can be harmful to your business.
When there is nothing more important than safety, leveraging the most reliable NDT solution for aircraft fatigue analysis is a top priority.