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How is NDT Used in the Aerospace Industry?

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is used in the product’s design and development, production and usage (e.g. service inspections of the aircraft engines and structures). For example, technicians and engineers use NDT to look for damages, corrosion, chips, scratches and cracks which help in guaranteeing function and safety.

How is NDT applied in aerospace

NDT is useful because the parts inspected remain whole and serviceable. If there’s no need for disassembly, repair and replacement, it’s practical to let the parts and components stay whole and intact after inspection.

For example, visual inspection is a straightforward NDT method where we quickly look for damages. It’s still reliable when looking for the early signs of a problem or defect especially if we use mirrors, magnifying glasses, borescopes and remote viewing devices. However, this method only shows surface problems.

What about sub-surface issues? If we want to go a bit deeper, we can use Ultrasonic Testing. This NDT method uses sound waves to locate defects in bolts, adhesive bonds, fittings, joints and welds. The reflection of sound waves varies depending on the make of the material and if there are possible flaws and damages. For a more accurate inspection and interpretation, there are now detectors with advanced features. For instance, the Sonatest Prisma Ultrasonic Flaw Detector (Prisma UT Model) allows technicians to do corrosion inspections and comprehensive on-site thickness profiling. These capabilities have been useful in aerospace and other applications with needed corrosion mapping.

Another NDT method is magnetic particle inspection for detecting discontinuities in ferromagnetic materials (e.g. iron, nickel, cobalt). It works by examining the test object after applying magnetic particles on the surface. Similarly, radiography methods are about applying radiation (x-rays, gamma rays) and then interpreting the resulting image (just like when we get an X-ray). For example, The Lixi Profiler uses gamma radiography (specifically from a Gadolinium-153 isotope) for pipe inspection. This has been already applied in aerospace, power generation, manufacturing, chemical production and other industries.

Notice that in all the NDT methods mentioned so far, they require the application of particles or energy and then analysing and interpreting the resulting image or pattern. There are other NDT methods that work on the same principle of applying and interpretation. There’s also a wide variety of NDT devices for each method. Practical and careful selection here is important to ensure accurate results. To assist you in method and device selection, you can contact us here at NDT Equipment Sales. You can tell us about your requirements and application first and then we’ll recommend a practical and cost-effective solution.