Composite structures behave differently under normal loads than equivalent metal structures. Fatigue and corrosion have proved to be much less prevalent in composites compared with metals. Subsurface damage can go undetected for long periods and result in sudden catastrophic failure, such as the crash of American Airlines Airbus a few years ago.
The project aims to develop an advanced non-invasive imaging tool for qualitative and quantitative inspection of composites used primarily but not only in aircraft applications. This novel system will be using automated scanning via the use of a poly-articulated robotic arm equipped with sophisticated and innovative sensors operating in three infrared wavelengths (near, medium and long wave).
Novel sensor units will be used to acquire images during the non-destructive inspection of composites in the three infrared wavelengths. The automated tool will allow fast and prompt inspection of different composites components in the aerospace industry using Near Infrared Vision (both transparent and semi- transparent composites), Mid Wave IR Thermography (inspection in the manufacturing and assembly stages - interior aircraft parts), and Long Wave IR Thermography (in situ inspections for maintenance and repair - exterior aircraft).
The system will incorporate a novel image processing module combining and enhancing the individual inspection capabilities of the three imaging
sensors and automatically recognizing defects that may be undetectable otherwise! The proposed system:
A) optimizes the inspection/maintenance process and the accuracy of defect detection in a reliable and rapid manner, and
B) will further reduce the use of manual, subjective inspections. This way, accuracy will be improved at least by 80%, increasing the “Probability of Detection” and thus reducing the operating costs and time.