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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maintaining Composite Materials

By Ramon Lopez/Editor, AT’s Daily Brief

Imperium's Acoustocam i600 has been selected by Bell Helicopter as part of their joint program with the FAA to develop inspection technology and techniques to address maintenance concerns due to the growing usage of composite materials in structural applications for modern rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft.

"Imperium's smaller, rugged, and portable ultrasonic imaging tool is an innovative technology that we believe may provide a solution to rapid inspection of composite components for damage and manufacturing flaws," said Jeffrey Nissen, Program Manager and Principle Investigator for the R&D project at Bell Helicopter. "We have a good relationship with Imperium and are looking forward to working together to develop inspection technology for future composite aircraft maintenance."

Nissen is leading the FAA research project and has selected the Imperium Acoustocam for the FAA program specifically to address composite inspection concerns.

During their development effort Bell will be researching Imperium's technology as well as several other promising technologies to determine suitability as a rapid inspection device which enables minimally trained operators to make faster, more accurate maintenance decisions, and with greater confidence.

The developed technology will have application to Bell composite rotorcraft such as the newly certified Bell 429, 407, 412 and Bell/Agusta 609 as well as fixed wing composite aircraft

Bob Lasser, President and CEO of Imperium said, "This program is extremely important as the aerospace industry migrates more and more toward the use of composite structures. Our powerful imaging technology quickly identifies and detects problems instantly, thereby assisting maintenance crew of any level to report their findings with accuracy."

The FAA-funded research titled 'Nondestructive Inspection Research of Composite Materials Used on the Commercial Fleet' was initiated due to the increased usage of composite structures in both commercial and general aviation aircraft.

By the nature of their fabrication, composites pose new and unique challenges to aviation inspectors. As their usage continues to expand from secondary to primary structures, improved nondestructive inspection (NDI) methods will be required to better detect and characterize anomalies in these materials such as due to impacts and manufacturing flaws.

How the Composite Revolution Affects You, an Aviation Today webinar, will air on Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (ET). Speakers include: Aviv Tzur. Executive Chairman, Ultimate Aircraft Composites; Oscar S. Garcia, Chairman, InterFlight Consulting, Aviation & Aerospace Business Solutions; Ed Herlik Managing Partner, Market Intel Group;  Paul Leighton, Chief Executive Officer, Aircraft Value Analysis Co. and Editor-in-chief, Aircraft Value News.

To register: video.webcasts.com/events/pmny001/viewer/index.jsp

The increasing prevalence of composites in aircraft construction affects all segments of the aviation industry, whether its rotorcraft, avionics, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), aircraft manufacturing, or air safety.  This "composite revolution" also affects all personnel levels – from the maintenance shop floor to the cockpit to the executive suite.

That's why Aviation Today has put together this new webinar – to answer the questions you have about these miracle materials. This online event will explain how composites are radically changing the way pilots fly, mechanics repair, and OEMs strategize.

This webinar is interactive, allowing you to pose questions to the speakers. So, if you have any question as it relates to composites, it WILL get answered.

You'll learn:
    •    How composites are profoundly transforming aircraft manufacturing. What do OEMs such as Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter, AgustaWestland, and the rest need to accomplish, to get ready for this brave new world of aircraft construction? What can they learn from successful early adopters, such as Boeing and its 787 Dreamliner?
    •    Sophisticated – and fragile – avionics suites are increasingly wrapped in protective composite cocoons. What do avionics companies such as Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Raytheon, Thales, BAE Systems, and others need to know about the complexities of composite handling?
    •    How engine makers such as Rolls-Royce, Turbomeca, General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney are adapting to composites and what it means for their customers.
    •    Why the increasing use of composites makes MRO training more vital.
    •    The competitive advantages of composites. They help reduce aviation's carbon footprint, but how can they help air carriers and OEMs make money? How will the greater fuel efficiency and speed that composites convey eventually open up new routes for passengers – and new uses for operators?
    •    The unintended safety concerns of composites. How can aircraft manufacturers and operators relying on composites prepare for and cope with these safety issues?

To register:  video.webcasts.com/events/pmny001/viewer/index.jsp

Ramon Lopez also serves as editor-in-chief of Air Safety Week; he has been covering air safety for more than three decades.  rlopez@accessintel.com)


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