City Research Online

Autonomous Systems Imaging of Aerospace Structures

Deane, S., Avdelidis, N. P., Ibarra-Castanedo, C. , Maldague, X., Tsourdos, A., Williamson, A., Yazdani Nezhad, H. ORCID: 0000-0003-0832-3579 & Zhang, H. (2019). Autonomous Systems Imaging of Aerospace Structures. Paper presented at the 10th International Symposium on NDT in Aerospace, 24-26 Oct 2018, Dresden, Germany.


Manufacturers are constantly looking for more cost-efficient means to produce aircraft components. An effective way to do this is to reduce the weight, which results in less fuel required to power the aircraft. This has led to an increased use of composite materials. Carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite is used in industries where high strength and rigidity are required in relation to weight. e.g. in aviation – transport. The fibre-reinforced matrix systems are extremely strong (i.e. have excellent mechanical properties and high resistance to corrosion). However, because of the nature of the CFRP, it does not dint or bend, as aluminium would do when damaged, it makes it difficult to locate structural damage, especially subsurface. Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) is a wide group of analysis techniques used to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage to the operator or material. Active Thermography is one of the NDT risk-free methods used successfully in the evaluation of composite materials. This approach has the ability to provide both qualitative and quantitative information about hidden defects or features in a composite structure. Aircraft must undergo routine maintenance –inspection to asses for any critical damage and thus to ensure its safety. This work aims to address the challenge of NDT automated inspection and improve the defects’ detection by performing automated aerial inspection using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) thermographic imaging system. The concept of active thermography is discussed and presented in the inspection of aircraft’s CFRP panels along with the mission planning for aerial inspection using the UAV for real time inspection. Results indicate that this inspection approach could significantly reduce the inspection time, cost, and workload, whilst potentially increasing the probability of detection.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
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