Faster Aircraft Defect Analysis

Organization: Los Alamos National Laboratory (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Co-Developer(s): Eric B. Flynn, Principal Developer, Charles Farrar, Gregory Jarmer
Year: 2014

2014 R&D 100 Winner In 2012, aircraft-maker Airbus was ordered to ground all their A380 superjumbo planes to conduct emergency inspections on each aircraft after cracks were found in some wing components. The economic impact of inspection and the resulting system downtimes affect both the commercial and military sector, causing downtime that cuts into both profits and combat readiness. In an effort to address the apparent shortcomings in modern inspection technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory developed an Acoustic Wavenumber Spectroscopy (AWS) instrument that performs nondestructive inspection more quickly and easily than prior spectroscopy solutions.

AWS generates images of hidden structural properties and/or defects by taking fast, full-field measurements of a structure’s steady-state response to periodic ultrasonic excitation. AWS’s breakthrough is in its ability to extract local wave propagation properties by using continuous, periodic ultrasonic excitation and continuous-scan sensing, which enables noninvasive, high-rate and high-resolution ultrasonic imaging. Taking measurements of a structure’s relatively high amplitude steady-state response yields significantly faster scans by avoiding many of the wave-reverberation and signal-to-noise-ratio issues associated with typical scanned ultrasonic measurements.

TechnologySpectroscopy method for defect inspection

DevelopersLos Alamos National Laboratory

Development Team

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Los Alamos National Laboratory's Acoustic Wavenumber Spectroscopy (AWS) development team (l-r): Charles Farrar, Eric Flynn and Gregory Jarmer.















The Acoustic Wavenumber Spectroscopy (AWS) Development Team from Los Alamos National Laboratory Eric B. Flynn, Principal Developer Charles Farrar Gregory Jarmer