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A4A/SAE Better Way Award Honors Composite Structure Inspection Training Program

WARRENDALE, Pa., Sept. 21, 2017 - Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, and SAE International, the ultimate knowledge source for mobility engineering, jointly presented the 15th annual “Better Way Award” at the recent Nondestructive Testing (NDT) Forum to a team comprising members from Sandia National Laboratories, the FAA, Delta Air Lines, NORDAM, and NDT Solutions, Inc. for furthering the science and efficacy of nondestructive testing.

Recognizing the increasing use of composite materials for airplane structure, the FAA’s William J. Hughes Techincal Center convened industry experts from Original Equipment Manufacturers (e.g. Boeing, Airbus, and Bombardier), airlines, and other industry stakeholders to develop improved training curricula for inspectors. The effort assures better training and incorporates physical specimens for hands-on experience.

Members of the 2017 “Better Way Award” team include Russell Jones and David Westlund of FAA; John  Bohler, Robert Hager, Alexander Melton of Delta; Stephen Neidigk, Tom Rice and Dennis Roach of Sandia; Daryl Graham and Jeff Harper of NORDAM; and Larry Culbertson of NDT Solutions.

“A4A congratulates this year’s winning team for their innovative approach toward improving the aircraft inspector training, while further strengthening the U.S. airline industry’s world-class aviation safety record,” said Billy Nolen, A4A Senior Vice President, Safety, Security and Operations. “Working in partnership, this team of industry leaders reflects our commitment to utilizing the latest cutting-edge technology and innovation through all phases of flight to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for the 2.2 million customers who fly on U.S. airlines every day.”

The A4A NDT Forum is marking its 60th year at a four-day conference held in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where industry leaders are meeting to discuss current trends, issues and successes in NDT methodologies. The event features a number of presentations on achievements and lessons learned about technologies that help ensure the life and safety of aircraft structures by detecting defects well before they can be seen or cause a failure. This year’s topics showcase methodologies associated with composite structures, additive manufacturing and new repair methods for older aircraft models.


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive nearly $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 11 million U.S. jobs. Airlines for America (A4A) vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.

America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the integral role the nation’s airlines play in connecting people and goods globally, spur the nation’s economic growth and create more high-paying jobs. A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.

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SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting more than 127,000 engineers and technical experts, we drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our philanthropic SAE Foundation, including programs like A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series™.