Types of Non-Destructive Inspection for Aerospace Applications

With the use of carbon fiber composite materials for aircraft, space and defense applications, robotic non-destructive inspection processes allow for the inspection of structural components at faster inspection speeds, delivering higher inspection productivity. Ultrasonic inspection allows manufacturers to evaluate the materials, components, and structure without causing damage to the materials examined.

Benefits of Non-Destructive Inspection:

  • Inspection of complex geometries
  • Capability to inspect large components
  • Automated defect detection
  • High inspection productivity
  • Fast inspection speeds


Through Transmission Ultrasonic Inspection

Ultrasonic Inspection techniques find internal damage in composite structures by means of the reduction or reflection of ultrasonic waves. Through Transmission Ultrasonic (TTU) inspection uses a probe on one side of the component to be tested to transmit an ultrasonic pulse to a receptor probe on the other side. If a pulse is not detected by the receptor probe, a defect is identified.

TTU inspect is most often used for inspection of honeycomb and other cored “stacked” structures. When parts of this type are included in a fully integrated component, TTU can inspect these areas as well.

Phased Array Ultrasonic Inspection

Phased Array Ultrasonic Inspection uses a set of probes made of many small elements. Each element is pulsed individually with computer-calculated timing. One of its advantages over other types of ultrasonic inspection is that it can be used to inspect more complex geometries that are much slower and difficult to inspect with single probes.

This method of non-destructive inspection can also be used for repeat scans because it has a high degree of repeatability. Phased array ultrasonic inspection emits beams of multiple different angles sequentially and can be used to create detailed, accurate cross-sections of a component. Because it’s able to sweep the beam without moving the probe, it’s also useful in situations where there’s limited space for mechanical scanning.

Laser Shearography

The laser shearography optical measurement technique for non-destructive inspection is used for fast defect detection. An interferometric comparison of a component is performed of two states, neutral and loaded. Advanced software algorithms process images in real-time to find variations in out-of-plane deformations. This reveals surface and sub-surface discontinuities or anomalies by highlighting weaknesses when under load.

Laser shearography is used for large and complex geometries that need to be scanned quickly and efficiently, with results displayed in real time. It finds defects like wrinkles, cracks, delamination, etc.

Eddy Current

Eddy currents are electrical currents induced by reaction with an alternating magnetic field. Eddy current inspections are best for the detection of cracks caused by fatigue or stress corrosion. This inspection can be performed with little part preparation and still achieve a high degree of sensitivity.

Eddy current can be used to detect surface and subsurface defects. They can find corrosion in structures, fastener holes, and bolt holes. Eddy currents can only be used in conductive materials.

Read our non-destructive inspection case studiesto learn how Genesis Systems NDI solutions for aircraft, space, and defense help maximize productivity.

Posted in Non-Destructive Inspection
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