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Navy Awards Contract For Composite Airframe Sensor System

Aurora Sensors Will Allow Non-Destructive Evaluation In Composite Parts

The Navy has awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a contract to develop an innovative sensor system to perform damage detection and evaluation. Aurora will utilize state-of-the-art structural health monitoring (SHM) sensors developed by Metis Design Corporation to create a system that can readily be added to airframes to perform non-destructive evaluation (NDE) of composite parts. Such a system would have potential to replace costly and complex manual inspection techniques for composite airframes. These inspections require physical and visual access to components, which is not always available on complex air vehicle platforms.

SHM has the capability to detect small defects in composites with high-resolution accuracy, including incipient damage that is not easily detectable. Additionally, SHM systems spot changes in the material over time, which can be used to monitor airframes for damage incurred during routine operation. This system can be used not only to perform NDE on components, but also to monitor the airframe over its entire life. The knowledge gained from the vehicle health management sensors decreases the down-time of the vehicle while increasing the safety of the crew.

According to the project's manager, David Kordonowy, "Interpreting the sensor signal into meaningful information -- where the damage is and how extensive it is -- has been a major challenge to structural health monitoring until now. Our NDE/SHM concept addresses this difficulty by using calibrated sensors with robust algorithms to detect damage that cannot be seen with the naked eye."



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