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Challenges and Opportunities in the Advancement of NDT in Aerospace

While the emergence of new testing devices and software has enabled greater technical mobility, there remain limitations to what NDT can offer. Eddy current testing, for example, despite being used for more than 50 years, remains a particularly complex process that needs specialist technicians. Its use is confined to use on conductive materials and has a limited depth of penetration. Meanwhile, liquid penetrants can only detect imperfections that are open to the surface, while testing on a rough surface will likely result in a false indication. However, believes that if equipment makers and customers work together some of these difficulties may be overcome. “A closer relationship between NDT equipment manufacturers and their customers is needed to improve both the equipment and the way it can be used. However, the biggest challenge facing NDT operators currently is the short supply of available expertise. As with all engineering disciplines at the moment, attracting the next generation of NDT inspectors has been difficult and is resulting in an ageing. Modern type of technology and its synergy with younger, computer-savvy workers could help attract the next generation of NDT professionals. “When you think about how people use devices from a consumer standpoint, young people have a touch screen in their pocket as it’s what they grew up with. While concerns over skills persist, the NDT sector is one with great prospects. As the airline industry grows, so too, does the need for NDT to ensure aircraft reliability and safety. A report last year by researchers MarketsandMarkets, - “Nondestructive Testing Market by Technology – Global Trends & and Forecasts to 2014–2020”, estimates that the NDT industry will grow by 3.5 percent annually up to 2020, increasing its overall value to $7bn .With the US and Europe firmly established, the emerging NDT markets are Latin America and Asia Pacific, while countries such as Brazil, India, and China have been earmarked as having large growth potential. For those MROs holding the expert skills base needed to perform NDT, there are plenty of opportunities for growth in the next five years.

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