Air Transport World

When aircraft get cracking; nondestructive testing. (includes related article on visual aircraft inspection techniques)

ALBUQUERQUE--With its initial contract winding down but an expanded pact nearing finalization, Sandia National Laboratories showed off its accomplishments in the U.S. FAA's Aging Aircraft Program to some 300 attendees at the Air Transport Assn.'s annual nondestructive testing forum here in November. The new contract, says Pat Walter, manager of the Aging Aircraft NDI Validation Center (ATW, 3/93), "basically gives FAA access to the entire laboratory complex and allows them to fund us for up to $50 million over five years if they choose."

More than 40 demonstrations of NDI technologies have been completed at the AANC and several reports issued. New projects in progress or planned include a visual inspection reliability experiment that is being coordinated with the ATA inspection network; a composite reinforcement and inspection program with participation by Delta Airlines, Lockheed and Textron Specialty Materials; a study of halon-gas-bottle hydro-test alternatives, with American Airlines representing ATA interests; a DC-9 wing box inspection with Northwestern University Douglas and Northwest Airlines, and an experimental assessment of reliability for small and second/third-layer crack detection.

The AANC's test beds in elude a 27-year-old 737-200 with 46,358 cycles and 38,342 hr. on its airframe; 22-year-old DC9 fuselage sections with 64,360 cycles and 56,520 hr., and an HU25A (Falcon 20) jet donated by the Coast Guard. …

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