The Upper Austrian aerospace supplier recently received the relevant technical qualification from Boeing and, with this, the approval for practical application in series production. The approval certificate was recently handed over to FACC CEO Robert Machtlinger by Lane Ballard, Boeing Vice President Research & Technology.
Safety standards are particularly high in the aviation industry. Consequently, aircraft components – such as those manufactured by FACC in innovative fiber-composite technology – must be subjected to a thorough quality inspection. Until now, the parts have been examined one-by-one in a relatively time-consuming process using ultrasonic.
Active thermography – faster and more accurate than ultrasonic
FACC has developed the new inspection method of “active thermography” in collaboration with the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences and the Higher Technical College (HTL) in Andorf. In doing so, the technicians have used temperature differences to reliably ensure the quality inside the component. “Active” means that the surface is heated by several tenths of a degree Celsius using a heating lamp. Component defects can be detected through the propagation of thermal waves, which are made visible by an infrared thermographic camera, because cavities and foreign bodies in the material change the heat flow.
The inspection system is ideal for carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) and other composites, because this method is more accurate, faster, and reduces the inspection times compared with conventional processes by up to 50%. Additionally, the system is significantly less expensive to buy, mobile, and consequently employable in FACC’s various production facilities.
An important basis for the successful cooperation with the development partners was the funding from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Through the funding programs of the FFG the multi-year research work in the technology development was decisively supported and its industrialization successfully implemented.
Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG, emphasizes the great importance of the research results attained: “The Boeing approval of the FACC innovation now provides us with a unique technology for testing aircraft components in serial production. As a leading Upper Austrian technology company we are proud of this achievement. “
Unique innovation: from research to series production
FACC have been qualified by Boeing for routine use of active thermography in the series production of aviation components.
“With this, FACC has yet again underlined its innovative strength and technological leadership,” says Robert Machtlinger, Chairman of FACC AG. “This advanced testing method is an important element in quality assurance for us: 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.”
New training program initiated
The testing of components for freedom from errors and defects is, particularly in the aviation industry, a guarantee for air traffic safety. Consequently, FACC attaches great importance to the training of inspection personnel. In order to ensure compliance with the demanding inspection requirements of active thermography, FACC has developed a training program in active thermography parallel to the development of this test method. Compliance with standards of the training contents has been confirmed by the ÖGfzP (Austrian Society for Non-Destructive Testing) certification body. These training contents are conveyed by the accredited ÖGfZP training institutions on site at FACC in a multi-day course.