Applications and Latest Developments for Mobile Active Thermography Systems for the Non-Destructive Inspection of Composites

Ferber, Cristian; AT - Automation Technology GmbH; Germany

Ferber, C.; Automation Technology GmbH; Germany

ID: ECNDT-0203-2018
Session: Aerospace 5
Room: G1
Date: 2018-06-13
Time: 11:50 - 12:10

The permanent urge for higher efficiency powers the creativity of engineers in their search for new ways to build lighter parts without neglecting structure stability. A kind of wonder material complying with these requirements is composite material: very light but also very strong. Particularly the aerospace industry profits from these benefits, explaining why in modern aircrafts, it is used more and more.

Although the advantages of composites are obvious, this material presents also new challenges for inspection and maintenance specialists.

To ensure high safety and cost-effectiveness, advanced NDT methods are required, that detect large areas of composites fast, while providing nevertheless accurate inspection results. At the same time, such systems must allow easy in-service inspections without extensive disassembly or the need for special facilities. The NDI should be easily performed and the results easy to analyze and to document.

Classic inspection methods such as a tap-hammer or a C-Scan UT are widely used in the NDI of aircrafts. While accurate, they require a lot of time for large area inspections and particularly UT requires also the use of a couplant.

On the other hand, active thermography is an NDI method that enables fast large-area inspections. The application of the technique is simple and the obtained results are easy to interpret and document.

The real challenge was the development of a mobile NDI system that allowed the application of this method for In-Service inspections.

AIRBUS realized the advantages of the technique and helped in the development of a portable system that is nowadays used by several MRO and airlines in their NDT routines.

The main goal is to present the NDI technique, the experience gained so far in practical operation, as well as the technical improvements and developments around the mobile system, which expand its fields of application (e.g. CRP car).