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Daniel Croft

Innovation

LADAR: Full Aircraft Inspection

Noncontact scanning for safer, faster, more accurate, and cost-effective inspections

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2023 - 11:02

As the aviation industry continues to evolve, the need for advanced technology to perform aircraft inspections is important. One such technology is noncontact scanning, which is becoming increasingly popular for full aircraft inspections.

Given the extreme forces to which aircraft are subjected during takeoff, flight, and landing, full aircraft inspections are necessary for military and commercial aircraft to ensure that essential features are all within tolerance.

Noncontact scanning can use a variety of techniques, such as 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry, to create highly accurate and detailed images of aircraft surfaces without the need for physical contact. API’s Dynamic 9D LADAR (laser detection and ranging) offers a breakthrough solution, using tracked high-speed, robot-mounted measurements to provide a completely automated solution that’s safer, faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective than traditional measurement methods. The video above shows how the LADAR solution can improve the following conditions.

Safety

LADAR scanning eliminates the need for technicians to physically climb onto an aircraft to perform inspections, which can be a dangerous and time-consuming process. By using noncontact scanning, technicians can remain safely on the ground while capturing highly detailed and accurate images of the aircraft surfaces. This minimizes the risk of accidents or injuries to technicians, and also reduces the amount of time required to perform inspections.

Speed and efficiency

A tracked LADAR solution offers an efficient process because it allows for the rapid capture of large amounts of data in a short amount of time. LADAR paired with a Radian Laser Tracker and i360 6DoF sensor offers the fastest measurement setup possible, taking points up to 20 times faster than traditional laser-radar systems with no need to stop for tooling ball tie-in. This is particularly advantageous for full aircraft inspections because it enables technicians to quickly assess the condition of an aircraft and identify any areas that might require maintenance or repairs. By reducing the time required for inspections, manufacturers can increase the amount of time their aircraft spend in the air, which can have a significant effect on their profitability.

Accuracy

Dynamic 9D LADAR’s scans produce highly accurate and detailed images of aircraft surfaces that can be used to identify even the smallest defects or imperfections. The system produces near-CMM-level accuracy at 20,000 points/second speeds. This level of accuracy is difficult to achieve using traditional inspection methods (or even some laser-based methods), which may rely on visual inspections or physical measurements. By using noncontact scanning, airlines can ensure that their aircraft are maintained to the highest standards of safety and performance.

Cost savings

Dynamic 9D LADAR, despite the cost of the equipment and installation, can actually be a cost-effective alternative to traditional inspection methods. Although the initial investment in equipment and training may be higher, the long-term cost savings can be significant. By reducing the man hours required for inspections and dramatically improving throughput, the productivity of inspection teams can finally match production speeds, and the downtime required for aircraft maintenance can be reduced. This can help lower the overall cost of aircraft maintenance and improve the profitability of manufacturers and airlines.

In conclusion, a tracked, robot-mounted Dynamic 9D LADAR solution is a highly advanced and effective technology that offers numerous advantages for full aircraft inspections by delivering measurements up to 20 times faster than laser radar systems and with no need for tooling ball tie-in. By improving safety, increasing speed and efficiency, enhancing accuracy, and reducing costs, LADAR is helping to transform the aviation industry and improve the safety and performance of aircraft around the world.

Learn more about API and LADAR here.

First published March 1, 2023, by API Marketing.

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About The Author

Daniel Croft’s picture

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is the global marketing manager with API. He has been with the company since 2017, writing and presenting many educational videos for the company YouTube channel, and leading branding efforts such as launching the Radian Laser Tracker series in 2018, vProbe in 2020, and Dynamic 9D LADAR in 2022.