The Singapore air force is installing Structural Monitoring Systems' (SMS) comparative vacuum monitoring (CVM) technology on a Northrop F-5 to test the structural integrity of the fighter.

The F-5 trial follows the installation of the technology on the air force's Aermacchi S211 jet trainers. CVM detects and monitors structural integrity in structures and is capable of detecting sub-1mm cracks in metal surfaces, measuring the crack and monitoring bonded surfaces and the state of bonded joints.

The technology comprises an inert sensor attached to the aircraft, a vacuum source and a fluid flow measuring device.

Robin Dean, managing director of the Perth, Western Australia-based company, says the technology was first tested on a US Navy MH53 helicopter. CVM was used to determine whether a known crack on the helicopter was dynamic, which it proved to be.

Dean hopes the Singapore trial could lead to programmes with other air forces in the Asia-Pacific region which have ageing fighter fleets.


SMS also has a number of civil trials of the technology under way, with civil aircraft manufacturers interested in its ability to address the high costs of detailed inspections required for ageing aircraft, says Dean. CVM can test structural integrity within minutes rather than four-day inspections, he says.

SMS hopes to complete a certification programme on a Northwest Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 by May. Boeing and Northwest are talking about extending the programme to ageing 747-200s and -400s, he says.

SMS is also talking to Boeing about using the technology on the 7E7, while Airbus has been using it for some time to qualify new materials for the A380, particularly to determine the fatigue life of glare, says Dean.


Source: Flight Daily News