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Automated Whole Body OML (Outer Mold Line) Defect Assessment



OBJECTIVE: The objective of this SBIR effort is to develop technology options for a future automated whole-body inspection capability to interrogate the health of aircraft surface coatings and structures. The goal is to reduce the visual inspection assessment time by 50% over the current baseline approach. Additionally, the goal is to increase defect position registration within 2 in. from truth and increase defect characterization accuracy within +/- 0.25 in. from truth. 

DESCRIPTION: Visual inspections for aircraft outer mold line (OML) coating and structural defects are time consuming and labor intensive requiring large maintenance man hours. The identification and registration of these defects is subject to error which results in inaccurate aircraft health assessment. Currently, maintainers visually survey the entire surface of the aircraft looking for defects, trace defects onto transparent sheets, measure and estimate defect size, register their position relative to surface features, and then manually transfer the data into an aircraft maintenance system. An automated, whole body OML assessment capability to detect, characterize, map and register surface coating and structural defects location in aircraft coordinates is desired to minimize the maintenance man-hour requirements and to increase the accuracy and speed of the inspection process. 

PHASE I: Demonstrate the feasibility of the prototype sensor system in a laboratory environment on commercially available OML coating and structural materials system. Any prototype sensor design must meet field-level requirements for a maintainer in the field to include Class 1/Div 2, ergonomic and safety requirements. The Government will not provide any GFE during the Phase I. 

PHASE II: Building on Phase I demonstrated feasibility, the Phase II task will be to optimize the technology to advance the TRL/MRL. The Phase II prototype will be required to be demonstrated on a relevant OML coating and structural system in an operational environment. Spiral development will require development and feedback of usability of the sensor system to meet field-level requirements for sensor ergonomics, software user interface, data analysis and processing. The Government will provide relevant GFE during the Phase II. 

PHASE III: Determine a commercialization plan to demonstrate the technology for other applications or commercialize the product for other platforms and customers. 


1: "Survey of Automated Visual Inspection," Computer Vision and Image Understanding, Volume 61, Issue 2, March 1995, Pages 231-262, Timothy S.Newman, Anil K.Jain

2:  "A Review of Recent Advances in Surface Defect Detection using Texture analysis Techniques," Xianghua Xie, Department of Computer Science, University of Wales Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP, United Kingdom, 18 April 2008

KEYWORDS: Outer Mold Line, Visual Defect Detection, Nondestructive Evaluation, Whole Body Inspection, Defect Characterization, Defect Registration 


Juan Calzada (AFRL/RXCA) 

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