Researchers at Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute S. A. Chaplygin (SibNIA), Novosibirsk, Russia, in collaboration with Tomsk Polytechnic University, have designed a thermal flaw detector capable of detecting structural flaws in aircraft composed of composite materials at both the manufacturing and operating stages.
Recently demonstrating the technology at the 13th International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2017, the detector relies on a combination of data processing algorithms and thermal tomography and defectometry to operate.
"The aircraft is made of composite materials, mainly of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). Manufacturers wanted to install non-destructive testing components for the construction of the aircraft. However, this caused some difficulties, since the methods established in Russia are mainly designed for metal structures. Conventional testing methods like X-rays are appropriate for metals, but they are either not suitable for composites at all, or suitable only for certain modifications. Therefore, the manufacturers faced a problem related to the testing methods they could put into the technological plan. The ultrasonic method will be used in any case, but apart from it specialists made a decision to use the thermal testing method developed at TPU," says laboratory head Vladimir Vavilov.
"At MAKS, we presented a flaw detector mainly intended for the conditions of hangars (when panels are taken off from the aircraft) or for one-sided testing (directly on the aircraft itself). During production, there is an opportunity to turn panels, to put them optimally, to get them from the other side, and so on. Currently, we are designing a modular flaw detector that can be modified to meet production needs," says the scientist,
The exit trial of the technology is slated for October 2017.