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Ultrasound Camera: A Federal Aviation Administration Study for Rapid Inspection of Composite Materials

Sandia National Laboratories Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Assurance Center is performed a Composite Laminate Flaw Detection Experiment on behalf of the FAA and the Commercial Aircraft Composite Repair Committee (CACRC). They are investigating how well current inspection techniques are able to reliably find flaws in composite laminate structures and the degree of improvements possible through the integration of more advanced NDI techniques and procedures. The result of this study will be of high interest to the airline companies flying advanced aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Imperium Inc. participated in this experiment applying their advanced Digital Acoustic Video (DAV™) technology embodied in their i600 AcoustoCam™ ultrasonic inspection system. Four composite structures were inspected for the experiment. The structures provided both constant thickness and complex geometries to the inspector as well as providing different ply thicknesses and differing number of ply layers. Imperium’s i600 AcoustoCam system accurately detected 100% of the flaws with zero false calls on several test items. These perfect results were obtained in less than an hour of an inspector’s time. This paper addresses Imperium’s DAV technology and how it was able to quickly perform these high quality inspections of composite structures representative of fuselage and structural components of advanced aircraft. These results will be fully reported.

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