Airbus Group Innovations’ structural health engineering capabilities have been deployed in coordination with Airbus and TESTIA to prepare an easy-to-use, non-destructive testing (NDT) device in support of the A350 XWB’s commercial service entry.
The Line Tool – developed with Airbus Group Innovations’ “smart NDT” expertise – provides a straightforward “go” or “no-go” decision for airline maintenance personnel in the event of an impact to a composite component.
“When exposed to impacts, composite materials are subject to delamination – the loss of cohesion between constitutive layers – which can cause a significant reduction in mechanical strength with surface indications barely visible,” explained Sébastien Rolet, Head of Airbus Group Innovations’ Structure Health Engineering Department. “In support of the A350 XWB’s entry into service, Airbus identified a need for efficient testing of areas on the aircraft that are potentially exposed to impacts, such as the fuselage skin near doors for loading passengers, baggage or cargo.”
Once the possible-impact area identified, water is sprayed onto the area of the aircraft to be inspected. Water acts as a coupling medium to ensure the efficient transfer of ultrasound waves from the sensor to the test material and back. Finally, the Line Tool’s wheel probe is rolled over the composite section to be inspected, sending ultrasound waves through the material.
The Line Tool interprets ultrasonic signals to determine both the reliability of the diagnosis and the presence (red) or absence of delamination. In case a red “no-go” signal, further assessment from a certified NDT expert is required to study the delamination.
“After a successful development phase, the first production units were assembled in late 2014. Airlines already have had the opportunity to test our prototype, and they were very impressed with its ease-of-use and the speed with which it can deliver a diagnosis,” added Sébastien Rolet.
Based on the press release “Airbus Group Innovations’ expertise supports development of a non-destructive testing tool for the A350 XWB”