Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1907
2019-09-16

NDT Application from Conventional to Digital Radiography for the Aircraft Maintenance Industry 2019-01-1907

Technological innovation can provide improved productivity, increased cost savings, and it can keep or make an organisation competitive. Digital radiography for non-destructive testing (NDT) is such a promising innovation. In organisations with large scale utilisation of non-destructive testing, a transition from film to digital radiography is easily justified. Nevertheless, this is not the case for every organisation. Next to the operational workflow, system flexibility, quality, and regulatory issues also play a role in the trade-off. Especially in the aircraft maintenance industry, where the non-destructive operation is related to a lot of different factors. Motivated by the developments of digital radiography, the NDT department of KLM Engineering & Maintenance (E&M) requested advice in reconsidering their conventional film radiography capabilities. The objective of this research was to assess the feasibility of digital radiography at KLM E&M. First, a thorough understanding of the technical and practical principles behind conventional radiographic testing was built up. Regulatory and process requirements were identified and several digital radiographic systems for industrial purposes were analysed. Based on the requirements, only computed radiography (CR) with the use of imaging plates and direct radiography (DR) with a flat panel detector were considered feasible. 14 key inspections were chosen as most representative for the feasibility assessment. In technical and legal sense, CR is considered the most suitable alternative for the replacement of conventional radiography at KLM E&M., based on the process characteristics of the 14 key inspections. A variable cost model was set up to compare the use of CR with conventional radiography at KLM E&M. Eight scenarios were given for the assessment of the financial validation. CR certainly offers possibilities for KLM E&M. However, based on the fact that digital radiography is a relatively new technology, and the subsequent risk of investment failure, the financial validation for a CR investment is weak, and an investment should therefore not be done at this particular moment. It is finally recommended that an innovation working group should be formed, that monitors the development in digital radiography.

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