Guided Wave Phased Array Technology for Rapid Large-Area NDI of Aircraft

Period of Performance: 09/01/2015 - 06/01/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Fbs, Inc.
450 Rolling Ridge Drive
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT:The inspection requirements for the Air Force legacy fleets are becoming increasingly time-consuming. One of the driving forces of the lengthy inspection process is the inefficiency of current NDI systems in scanning very large areas due to the fact that traditional NDI systems are designed to inspect only directly beneath the probe or within a very small area around the probe, and thus inspection procedures developed for these traditional systems require tedious scanning of large regions. FBS proposes a guided wave phased array technology for rapid large-area inspection of aircraft outer mold lines for cracking and corrosion, which provides a radar-like inspection scan of an area up to 20 feet in diameter using patent-pending technology. Bulk wave phased array has revolutionized the ultrasonic testing of structures through their thickness by rapidly providing sector scans that are more intuitive than a traditional ultrasonic A-scan. In this same way, FBS has developed probes and technology that will revolutionize guided wave inspection by rapidly scanning large plates from a single probe position. The current technology is being developed for Navy ship hull inspection, but probe and hardware redesigns would allow this technology to be implemented for rapid inspections of large areas of aircraft.BENEFIT:The proposed system will improve the efficiency of aircraft outer mold line inspection by rapidly generating radar-like scans of large areas. This technology would be applicable to fuselage sections, control surfaces, engine and fuel nacelles, wings, and more on commercial and military aircraft. The technology could also be adapted for non-aerospace applications. This technology has a clear path to commercialization by partnering with Olympus NDT, a worldwide leader in non-destructive testing equipment, and building on an existing commercialized guided wave hardware platform.