European aircraft industry has achieved a key role in the world market. To reach and maintain this position it has been constantly introducing innovations especially in the field of structural design. Successful introduction of new structural technologies into the European aeronautic industry demands that quality control and maintenance tools are developed in due time fulfilling adequate performances.
The objectives of this project were focused on the developments of a selection of NDT methods well suited for adaptation to tomorrow's needs. The following list should demonstrate some of them:
- Higher number of aircrafts: The fleet of European aircraft will continuously grow in future despite all drawbacks that occurred recently. This higher number demands reliable and faster inspection methods in order to keep the pace with the maintenance requirements. Methods like shearography, thermography and digital X-ray techniques are capable to fulfil these requirements.
- Aging aircrafts: The European aircraft fleet is relatively young. In future there will the strong need to inspect aging aircrafts to ensure reliability and offer ways for longer lifetime. The inspection techniques of INCA can easily be adapted to aging aircrafts' needs.
- New aircraft types: Recent developments in European aircraft industry showed that there is an urgent demand to deal with larger areas in short times due to the fact that the aircraft's body becomes larger. INCA's new inspection techniques for contact-less and full-field testing and concepts are necessary to fulfil future demands.
- New structural designs: New materials and processes have been developed and will be developed in future that are not easy to be inspected by conventional means. Integral composite designs, advanced multi- layered structures, metallic laminates and new bonding techniques demand new approaches to a reliable inspection. URS, Thermography, sherography and laser ultrasonics for example are developed with respect to these new structural designs.
The INCA scientific approach was based on the set-up of a test platform at MYOS site on one side and the development of defined sub-systems on the other side. The sub-system requirements were defined by the end- users and validated on representative cases using the test platform.
The INCA project covered a considerable variety of different innovate technologies in various states of maturity. The shearography, X-ray and thermography developments were expected to be on the market soon as an extension of existing NDT equipment and as an approach to the inspection of new materials and components. Laser ultrasonic was technically mature technology the reliability and costs of which still had to be improved and that needed special adaptation to the aircraft manufacturers' needs with respect to the shape of the components, CRFP surface conditions and flexibility. GMR sensors were under development and adaptation also outside the INCA project and the combined experience was supposed to lead to near-term solutions, too.
All INCA technologies had the potential to improve inspection capabilities and to enable the introduction of new, economically and ecologically efficient, aircraft materials, components and designs.