Recent and Future Enhancements in NDI for Aircraft Structures (Postprint)
AIR FORCE MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING DIRECTORATE WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB United States
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The U.S. Air Forces USAF Aircraft Structural Integrity Program ASIP was established in November 1958 in response to in-flight structural failures. Additional failures in the late 1960s, far short of the qualified safe-life, demonstrated that the safe-life approach had shortcomings. The USAF implemented a damage tolerance approach in response to these failures, recognizing that aircrafts structure has a wide range of initial quality from manufacturing processes plus service induced damage and that the aircraft structure had to be inspectable. The results of the damage tolerance assessments were incorporated into USAF Technical Orders which established inspection and maintenance requirements to maintain structural integrity and to control risk to an acceptable level. Therefore, the execution of effective nondestructive inspection NDI is essential to maintain the structural integrity of USAF aircraft and clear guidance is provided in the ASIP standard. This requires new inspection technology to be evaluated to ensure that the inspections are reliable and repeatable when performed by the typical field or depot level inspectors. Active research and development R and D at the Air Force Research Laboratory AFRL has resulted in new NDI technical enhancements and technology to address the need for improved tools to assess structural integrity of structures while continually striving to reduce the time and resources to accomplish NDI of aircraft structure. This includes improved eddy current probes, improved eddy current instrumentation, as well as other electromagnetic and ultrasonic-based capabilities. These technology improvements are described together with the processes to perform the validationverification of these technologies and USAF processes that are in place to maintain uniform capability for all NDI inspections regardless if they are performed in a field or depot environment.
- Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods
- Military Aircraft Operations