Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Aerospace Applications

Non-destructive testing can be used in the aerospace industry to assist with a range of different processes. Manufacturing, research and development, innovation in coatings, structural evaluation and welding processes can be enhanced with testing which does not damage the structures being evaluated. Strength, integrity, durability, damage and workability can be identified in aircraft or space craft components by employing non-destructive testing. NDT can provide assurances that machines are capable of flying without risk of failure or harm present. NDT can be used on a range of materials: from metal or plastic components to coating materials. NDT has been used in aerospace applications to improve aircraft performance since WW2.

Additive Manufacturing

When inefficient manufacturing processes materialise, NDT can be used to find process conditions that can then be manufactured to improve the compliance of components with forces experienced by the aircraft. NDT can evaluate Stress, distortion and imbalance levels in components, which opens opportunity to improve manufacturing processes to improve overall structural integrity.

Research and Development

NDT is used in research and development in the design of process modelling. When the values of a component’s structural properties are known, NDT simulations can be run to determine what forces these components can safely endure. Computational fluid dynamics can also be used in research and development to predict residual stresses and distortion. The symmetry and precision of the sum of an aircraft or space craft’s components may be evaluated in order to iron out potentially fatal imbalances within an aircraft’s construction during and after manufacturing.

Innovation in Coatings

Aircraft and spacecraft coatings can be metal, electric or organic. A range of NDT techniques can be used to analyse coating materials in terms of their capability to withstand forces present in aerospace. Ion implantation, nitriding and aluminizing affect the chemistry and properties of 0.001-1.0mm of the surface. Weld hardfacings and cladding of the dimensions 1-20mm are another method used to test wear and corrosion resistance. Physical vapour deposition (PVD), chemical vapour deposition (CVD), anodizing, laser processing, thermal spraying, cold spraying and liquid deposition methods are other methods used to test the properties of surface coatings on aircraft.

Structural Evaluation

NDT techniques including acoustic emission, guided wave and vibration analysis can be used to evaluate the integrity of crucially important structural components of an air or space craft. Sensors can be used to evaluated wavelengths passed through a material and identify changes in performance of the component. If a component is undergoing undue stress, then it can be swapped out for a new part in order to extend the length of the aerospace vehicle.


NDT can be used to find defects within connections between components which can then be welded shut. Whether it is old welds or newly-damaged components, NDT radiography can be used to identify where a breach has occurred and said breach can be welded closed.

Contact NDT Australia

If you are looking for non-destructive testing equipment, check out NDT Australia’s online store. We supply a range of NDT equipment, including liquid penetrant testing (liquid deposition) and radiographic equipment. We are open for business Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 4:00pm. Contact our friendly sales team on (02) 9524 0558 to ask any questions or to place an order for any of the products listed on our online store.