Optical Inspection Automation of Jet Engine Components

Lufthansa Technik AG has industrialized the automated inspection procedure for engine components that the company developed in-house. The concept system that was produced during the AutoInspect R&D project is now in productive use. AutoInspect is a robot-based procedure that performs digital crack inspections on engine components with the help of high-end sensors.

The optical measurement procedure not only improves crack detection but also further increases process reliability. “Thanks to the AutoInspect procedure, we now have repair-relevant information available in digital form for all components throughout their product life cycle. This makes our engine component repairs even more efficient and thus also benefits our customers,” says Michael Ernst, AutoInspect Project Manager at Lufthansa Technik.

The newly developed inspection procedure is currently being made robust enough for industrial use. In addition, it is being rolled out for other combustor components in engines of the CFM56 and CF34 families. In mid-2018, the AutoInspect procedure and the automated repair procedure AutoRep are set to be combined into a process chain.

During phase one of industrialization in early 2017, the automated inspection procedure received regulatory approval by the aviation authorities. Since then, the concept system developed as part of the R&D AutoInspect project has been in productive use, resulting in improvements to both ergonomics and inspection productivity.

With AutoInspect, 3D.aero has reached a milestone in the development of automated process chains for aircraft maintenance. What started out as a research project by the engine repair department at Lufthansa Technik has resulted in a solution that automates energy-intensive multi-stage inspection processes and combines them into a single process step. Today, the automated inspection of defective combustion chambers is ready for routine use in the repair cycle.

Project partners Lufthansa Technik and Pepperl+Fuchs have taken advantage of their successful partnership during the R&D projects to bundle their expertise. In December 2017, they founded an equal-stakes joint venture – 3D.aero – for the future development of innovative automation solutions.

For more information: www.3d-aero.com