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Field Inspection ET-Array System for Aircraft Structures

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8649-22-P-0592
Agency Tracking Number: F2D-2403
Amount: $1,499,680.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF211-DCSO2
Solicitation Number: X21.1
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-04-08
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-07-10
Small Business Information
121 Bartlett Street
Marlborough, MA 01752-3025
United States
DUNS: 018791827
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Neil Goldfine
 (781) 373-9700
Business Contact
 Zachary Thomas
Phone: (781) 373-9722
Research Institution

There is an immediate need for improved non-destructive evaluation (NDE) of US Air Force aircraft structures for cracks from fatigue. For the F-15 fleet and other aging platforms, conventional eddy current testing (ET) is not meeting expectations or needs for crack detection performance. Furthermore, confidence in inspection results is low among many stakeholders. For bolt hole inspection and for detection of surface breaking and subsurface cracks away from holes, the cost and readiness impact of this inspection deficit are significant. JENTEK Sensors, Inc. has developed advanced eddy current array technology with model-based data analytics to address this need. The JENTEK MWM-Array is an ET array specifically designed to take advantage of advanced model-based data analysis and to provide immediate feedback to the operator to build confidence in inspection reliability. Prior work funded by the Air Force has demonstrated the capability of the MWM-Array to provide a significant improvement in probability of detection performance for surface and buried cracks away from holes, and the feasibility to provide a leap in bolt hole inspection performance. According to US Air Force subject matter experts, reliably detectable crack sizes with current ET methods are so large that the inspection interval must be shorter, adding significant cost, and frequently resulting in a fleet flying at risk. This has provided an opportunity to standup next generation ET array capability and rebuild US based competitiveness in NDE that has been lost to major foreign based competitors.  The JENTEK MWM-Array is in use for some Department of Defense (DoD) implementations, such as for engine inspections at the US Navy FRC-E with proven, award winning results and reliability. This proposed Phase II effort will enable the first broad implementation of ET-Arrays for aircraft structure crack detection including both bolt hole inspections and cracks away from holes. The Air Force requires a field-ready solution that can handle the challenges of practical field operation. US Air Force stakeholders have detailed specific technology gaps that must be addressed to get JENTEK’s jET handheld systems into the field. This proposed effort will specifically address those gaps raising the readiness to TRL 7. The requirements center around field durability, single user operation, and simplified user experience. JENTEK is committed to the commercialization and support of the jET for both field and depot inspections. The market for this product goes well beyond crack detection for aircraft structures, to include corrosion imaging for aircraft, a wide array of industrial applications such as coating characterization and land-based turbine component inspections, and applications in the oil and gas sector. Furthermore, JENTEK’s larger systems use the same electronics core and software providing additional leverage for commercialization success.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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