Improved Reliability and Multi-modal Capability of Non-Destructive Inspection for Cracks and Corrosion
Small Business Information
TEXAS RESEARCH INSTITUTE AUSTIN, INC.
9063 Bee Caves Road, Austin, TX, 78733
AbstractTexas Research Institute/Austin (TRI/Austin) has teamed with Computational Tools, Wesdyne, and NDE Technologies to propose the development and demonstration of multi-mode inspection concepts that will: reduce the cost of inspection improve the reliability of inspection, and enable faster deployment of new inspection technologies. The TRI Team will develop innovative inspection approaches using our experience in multi-mode NDI, NDI modeling, and in the execution of automated on-aircraft robotically scanned NDI. Within the Phase I effort, we will demonstrate all aspects of this modern NDI concept by developing and validating ultrasonic and eddy current techniques for a multiple layer structure with fasteners, typical of large area inspection requirements currently being addressed by manual inspection. Models will be used to optimize NDI technique that can be implemented in array designs, with simultaneous UT and ET array scanning, offering order of magnitude increases in inspection speed over existing single sensor techniques. Automated signal/data processing will be used to assist the interpretation of the large data sets. The TRI Team includes expertise in all aspects of the modern inspection process, including active participation of vendors able to immediately transition the research outcomes into useable tools for the Air Force depot environment. BENEFIT: Texas Research Institute/Austin (TRI/Austin) has teamed with Computational Tools, Wesdyne, and NDE Technologies to propose the development and demonstration of multi-mode inspection concepts that will: reduce the cost of inspection improve the reliability of inspection, and enable faster deployment of new inspection technologies. Cost reduction is achieved by reduction of labor hours. Aging aircraft are requiring additional inspections and the labor burden is increasing. The lack of confidence in the ability of manual inspections to first achieve 100% coverage and second to achieve the desired POD is causing the Air Force to perform redundant inspections in some cases. This would be eliminated in most situations by using the multi-mode inspection concept proposed in this document. Improved inspection reliability is achieved by two main facets of the TRI Team program. First, robotic scanning and computerized data acquisition provide the ability to achieve 100% coverage and the ability to audit the results to ensure this is the case. These are both critical issues in overall inspection reliability. Second, robotic systems reduce the degrees of freedom associated with manual probe manipulation, known to be a source of reduced POD. Enabling faster deployment of new inspection technologies is achieved because robotic scanners for inspection contain most of the capital cost of implementing a new inspection mode. Once the scanner and data acquisition hardware has been purchased, the capital costs of implementation of new inspection techniques is limited to the sensor costs, and does not need to include new black boxes with each deployment. TRI/Austin has engaged Wesdyne as a member of the TRI Team. Their business is the manufacture and sale of NDI equipment and NDI services. Previous versions of the Wesdyne IntraSpect robotic scanner and data acquisition system are in use at WR-ALC, so the transition path is made significantly easier in terms of capital cost, training, and user familiarity. Applications are available on almost all AF platforms. For example, Lockheed Service Bulletin SB82-790 requires the inspection of roughly 14,000 fastener holes in the C-130 lower wing. This is currently being done by manual methods, and redundant inspections are being performed to ensure coverage. A robotic scanning platform could significantly increase speed, and eliminate the necessity for repetitive inspections by storing data for confirmation of coverage. Within the Phase I effort, the TRI Team will develop techniques for wing plank splices in the C-130. Although this is a severe example, other transport aircraft such as the C-5, C-17, and K/C-135 all have significant areas such as crown and belly splice joints, wing splices, beam/spar caps that require scanning of large areas and/or large numbers of fasteners. By optimizing the techniques for array inspection methods, robotic scanners, and automated multi-mode data acquisition and enhancement, the TRI Team Multimode NDI solution could significantly reduce labor man-hours and aircraft time in depot.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.