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Health monitoring of aircraft by Nonlinear Elastic Wave Spectroscopy


Recent advances in aeronautics require the development of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) techniques that allow the quantification of micro-structural damage in a wide variety of materials during their manufacture and life cycle, ensuring both their quality and durability. Traditional NDE techniques, such as high quality linear acoustic, electromagnetic and visual inspection methods are not sufficiently sensitive to the presence and development of domains of incipient and progressive damage. For this purpose, AERONEWS will focus on the development and validation of an innovative micro-damage inspection system based on Nonlinear Elastic Wave Spectroscopy (NEWS).

Project objectives

The primary objective of this project is to enhance and implement new experimental and simulation tools necessary to measure, characterise, predict, quantify and locate early-stage damage in aircraft components and structures, based on the nonlinear response of the materials. Nonlinear Elastic Wave Spectroscopy (NEWS) has proven to be very sensitive and effective in detecting micro-damage in materials at early stages of failure, and long before linear acoustic properties show signs of material degradation. The focus will of this project will be on the following:

  • expansion of the present knowledge of the nonlinear behaviour of progressive fatigue damage in aircraft parts and structures
  • development of explicit sensor systems and advanced self-monitoring components
  • formulation of an integrated design for a testing procedure and a unique engineered monitoring system for micro-damage inspection, including remote control and communication tools
  • validation of the applicability of the system to real time in-situ inspection of a full-scale model on the ground.

Description of the work

The academic capabilities and usefulness of NEWS techniques will be extended in five ways, by:

  • Validating and certifying the use of NEWS in aeronautics by extending the application of NEWS methods on materials and objects for which there is a pronounced need in aeronautics (Work Package 1), and by formulating recommendations for the selection between different NEWS techniques with respect to materials, structures and experimental situations.
  • Proposing and developing the methodology for a NEWS technology-based imaging system (NEWIMAGE) through intensive NEWS modelling and enhanced numerical support for nonlinear acoustic imaging techniques of damage (localisation) (Work Package 2).
  • Designing smart transducer/sensing systems by developing innovative transducer-receiver systems for embedded instrumentation and advanced NDE (Work Package 3), along with comprehensive data recording and analysis tools (Work Package 4).
  • Preparing the necessary grounds for the development of a test device measurement system by combining the NEWS ideas with advanced transducer solutions (Work Package 3), wireless and remote communication capabilities and a user-friendly graphic interface (Work Package 4) to develop an efficient, semi-automatic and reliable package for the monitoring and identification of microdamage.
  • Verification of the capabilities of the health monitoring system by integrating the measurement system as a portable or permanent damage diagnostic tool on selected key aircraft parts of a full-scale model on the ground (Work Package 5).

Expected results

The development and preliminary verification of an innovative NEWS-based NDT technology and its engineering applications in aeronautics envisaged in this project will result in an enhanced, reliable and integrated prototype measurement system and protocol for micro-crack diagnostics of selected aircraft components and structures. Due to the increased sensitivity of the technology, it is expected that this development will result in a significant increase in aircraft and passenger safety while contributing to substantial cost savings through a decrease in maintenance and operating times. The long-term goals are the engineering of a standard measurement system based on NEWS for continuous health monitoring and early stage damage diagnosis.