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Proceedings Paper

Detecting water in aviation honeycomb structures by using transient infrared thermographic NDT
Author(s): Vladimir P. Vavilov; Alexey G. Klimov; Dmitry Nesteruk; Vladimir V. Shiryaev
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Paper Abstract

A lot of structural key elements of many modern civilian and military airplanes, such as flaps, keel, etc., are made of honeycomb structures. Honeycombs involve a combination of some materials including aluminum, Nomex, glass and graphite epoxy composites. During exploitation, atmosphere water could penetrate these structures due to possible imperfections in various junctions, and, thus, deteriorate airplane durability. In Russia, water in honeycombs is typically detected by using the X ray and ultrasonic technique. However, the X ray equipment is hardly accepted by commercial airlines because of the safety reason, and the point-by-point ultrasonic inspection is low-productive. Since 2002, we develop the IR thermographic method of detecting water by thermally stimulating aviation panels under test. Unlike the technique accepted by Airbus Industry, Inc., that uses 'a warm blanket', we use a powerful optical heater assembled with an IR camera into a single set. The first stage of research included modeling the detection process and optimizing the experimental procedure. As a result, we have demonstrated that, due to the high heat capacity of water, a temperature signal over moist areas evolves in time during a relatively long period that relaxes the requirements to the test protocol. Thus, even aluminum panels can be thermally stimulated during few seconds with a delay time being also in a few second range. A similar protocol can be applied to the inspection of composite honeycombs where the image quality resembles that obtained by X rays. The paper will describe all stages of the research starting from modeling and finishing with the preliminary experimental results obtained in situ on civilian airplanes.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 April 2003
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 5073, Thermosense XXV, (1 April 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.488226
Show Author Affiliations
Vladimir P. Vavilov, Tomsk Polytechnic Univ. (Russia)
Alexey G. Klimov, Tomsk Polytechnic Univ. (Russia)
Dmitry Nesteruk, Tomsk Polytechnic Univ. (Russia)
Vladimir V. Shiryaev, Tomsk Polytechnic Univ. (Russia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5073:
Thermosense XXV
K. Elliott Cramer; Xavier P. Maldague, Editor(s)

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