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Non-destructive Evaluation of Aircraft Structural Components

Aircraft Structural Components
June 11, 2021
Author : Chloe Kirner

Non-Destructive Testing contains within its gambit a wide range of techniques, methods and standards of inspection. These inspection techniques find wide application in testing the efficacy and optimal efficiency of a broad category of machines, equipment, industrial tools and especially aircraft. The cost of disassembling aircraft and then reconstructing can be considerably high and therefore, it is important to resort to a non-destructive method of evaluating the condition of the various structural elements in aircraft.

Non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components is important as it can be quite difficult for experts and engineers to understand the strength and condition of aircraft parts and components without performing a thorough evaluation of the parts. 

Applications of NDT

Here are some of how a Non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components can help the experts in making valuable observations about the condition of the aircraft.

Maintenance and Repair Need

To determine the exact repair and maintenance needs of the aircraft, it is important to be able to check the exact extent of damage caused to the body of the aircraft to be able to devise a suitable repair and maintenance plan. The Non-destructive Evaluation of Aircraft Structural Components uses infrared light beams to detect faults, inconsistencies and structural gaps in the components of the aircraft.

The extent of damage to the airframe structure: theairframe structure of the aircraft is the most essential aspect of the aircraft that determines the fluidity and efficiency of flight. Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation must be performed from time to time to determine the condition and health of the airframe structure.

Engine damage: the engine consists of several smaller yet more complex components inside the aircraft. It may not be possible to open up and disintegrate the aircraft and evaluate the extent of the damage. Using infrared testing techniques of non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components helps the testers in carrying out a complete and thorough examination of multi-layered aircraft parts such as engines.

Subsurface cracks in the aircraft: what may look like a simple subsurface crack in the aircraft could run deep into the profundities of its mechanisms., to be able to find out about the structural damage within the aircraft, it is important to use non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components to estimate the exact depth of the cracks.

Impact damage after an accident: when aircraft have gone through accidents, it is important to ascertain the accurate extent of damage caused to the body of the aircraft as well as to the underlying systems and mechanisms within the aircraft.

Non-destructive testing methods for aircraft

Impact damage can be assessed by using the techniques of non-destructive evaluation of aircraft structural components. Impact damage is the process of assessing the stress caused to the aircraft body and airframe as a result of collision or impact.

Corrosion: corrosion or rusting is common in aircraft especially in models that are old. Due to internal damage caused to the structure by corrosion and rust, the machines are not able to work optimally. Experts use non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components to determine which parts have been damaged as a result of rusting or corrosion. This helps the experts in deciding which parts need to be repaired and which parts must be replaced altogether.

Structural Irregularities

Due to fluctuating temperatures and high pressure, aircraft bodies are highly susceptible to structural gaps and irregularities. Non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components can be used to check the structural irregularities.

  • Visual Testing: visual techniques of non-destructive testing employ visual methods of inspecting the parts minutely to be able to observe the functioning of each part,
  • Ultrasonic Testing: ultrasonic testing includes procedures in which extra pressure is applied on the parts to see their strength and agility.
  • Radiography Testing: radiographic testing is a technique of non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components that uses radio waves to find out gaps and faults. This is a lot like the infrared technique and works on the same principles.
  • Eddy Current (Electromagnetic) Testing: similar to infrared testing and radiographic testing, this non-destructive evaluation technique of aircraft components also uses electromagnetic beams to identify gaps and faults.

The Bottom Line

One of the biggest challenges associated with non-destructive techniques of evaluation of aircraft components is that they can only effectively measure the gaps and inconsistencies and not the overall condition of the aircraft. Despite the many opinions against non-destructive testing, it is still the widely-favoured form of aircraft inspection. They can be used for testing any faults or leaks which can be detrimental to the flight efficiency.

In a leakage test, light, sound, and acoustic beams can be used to find out the ductility and malleability of the wires and wireframe inside the aircraft components. Non-destructive evaluation of aircraft components has gained wide popularity especially with smaller aircraft that have complex interconnected parts. The test allows the experts to determine not only the faults and gaps but also the strength of parts. This test is widely used for determining the true value of old aircraft when they are resold.

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About the Author

Chloe Kirner

Chloe Kirner

Chloe Kirner is a mechanical engineer by profession but has detailed knowledge about other branches as well which encompasses of chemical, civil, electrical, etc. After completing her PhD from Monash University, she worked as a freelance expert, guiding students through their tasks and assignments. She has contributed papers in international conferences and is an active researcher. She especially enjoys guiding students in their research projects by helping them prepare a proposal and then a report. She has written several articles and blogs for the help of students in answering their engineering assignment queries and is currently an engineering assignment help provider at My Assignment Services.

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