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Use of Phased Array Ultrasonics for Automated Aerospace Testing Applications

Ultrasonic testing requirements for aerospace applications require high sensitivity as well as highly repeatable and reliable detection capability. Phased array ultrasonics offers unique advantages over conventional ultrasound for aerospace testing because the beam can be controlled in many ways without mechanical movement. In addition, enhancements to throughput and repeatability are possible through the opportunities that phased array offers to test automation. The use of ultrasonic information from the array probe allows for continual monitoring of transducer alignment and positioning relative to the test piece without operator intervention. In addition, automated classification of detected discontinuities provides improvements to test reliability and probability of detection over operator controlled systems. However, the development of procedures to compensate for probe variability during an automated alignment and calibration procedure is not straightforward. This paper will describe the automated phased array processes and methods used for alignment, calibration and data acquisition by the Turbine Engine Sustainment Initiative (TESI) ultrasonic testing system developed by the University of Dayton Research Institute.

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