Austrian components manufacturer FACC has been qualified by Boeing to use its new active thermography testing process for series production of aircraft composite parts. The testing process, which was developed in collaboration with the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences and the Higher Technical College in Andorf, promises time savings of up to 50% compared to conventional testing methods like ultrasonic.
According to FACC CEO Robert Machtlinger, active thermography will improve the company’s quality assurance. “It boasts a high level of efficiency in inspection and maintenance work, increases reliability and thereby guarantees that the high safety standards of the aviation industry are met,” says Machtlinger.
Through active thermography, a part’s surface is heated by several tenths of a degree Celsius using a heat lamp. Since cavities and foreign bodies in material will change heat flow, component defects can be detected through thermal waves, which are made visible using an infrared thermographic camera. FACC says that in addition to being quicker than individually examining parts using ultrasonic, active thermography is less expensive to buy and mobile—so it can be used at the company’s various global production facilities.
While Boeing is not disclosing which components will be tested using active thermography, FACC currently produces components such as panels, winglets and nose cones for the aircraft manufacturer. FACC also produces composite components for other aircraft manufacturers, recently signing contracts with Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Bombardier Aerospace to produce and develop parts like overhead stowage compartments and composite engine components.