Aging Aircraft NDT

The sustainment of aging aircraft often requires novel application of standard NDT techniques, combinations of techniques and sometimes just plain judgment. This ever-changing, sometimes “rough and tumble” world makes close partnership of NDT technicians and sustainment engineers a must. Close communication between the two merges in-depth knowledge of the inspection technology with an understanding of structural load paths, aircraft usage and material properties to make an informed “decision without disassembly.” The element of the unknown often looms large in the aging aircraft field. The deterioration of the aircraft system may come from outside sources: fatigue or environmental attack (i.e. corrosion). Sometimes it is self-induced: inadequate maintenance practices, poor material selection in the design phase or changes in usage of the platform. Despite the cause of damage, the sustaining organization must remain ever vigilant; not just relying on the inspections in the book (although those are necessary), but going out and “looking for trouble.” This approach requires the right technique(s) in the right place at the right time – with just a little luck thrown in. Note: This paper is an update to one by the same name given at the 2014 ASNT Annual Conference.

References

 1. Forsberg, Dick. Aircraft Retirement and Storage Trends.  Avolon. March 2015.

2. Jiang, Helen. Trends in Fleet and Aircraft Retirement.  Boeing. June 2015.

3. 2016 USAF Almanac. Total Force Aircraft Age.  Air Force Magazine. May 2016

4. United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. SAB-TR-11-01. Sustaining Air Force Aging Aircraft into

the 21st Century.  Dated 1 August 2011.

5. National Research Council. Examination of the U.S. Air Force’s Aircraft Sustainment Needs in the Future and

Its Strategy to Meet Those Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2011.

6. National Transportation Safety Board. AAR 89-03. Aircraft Accident Report – Aloha Airlines, Flight 243,

Boeing 737-200, N73711, near Maui, Hawaii, April 28, 1988. Dated June 14, 1989.

7. Redmond, Gerard. From “Safe Life” to Fracture Mechanics – F111 Aircraft Cold Temperature Proof Testing

at RAAF Amberley.10th Asia-Pacific Conference on Non-Destructive Testing. September 17-21, 2001.

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