Air Force Contracts IAI to Continue Development of a Handheld Defect Inspection System for Low Observable Aircraft

Maintaining low observable aircraft requires the inspection and repair of the outer mold line (OML) coating system. This process is costly since the entire OML has to be manually surveyed for defects. The defects are then traced onto transparent sheets, and their size and position relative to surface features are recorded into an aircraft maintenance system. This time-consuming process is also prone to human error. IAI and collaborators at Lockheed Martin will continue to develop an automated inspection tool (AUTO-SCAN/XT) that will help airmen reduce inspection times, improve inspection accuracy, reduce sources of error in the inspection process, and improve aircraft availability. The key innovation is combining optical inspection and localization technologies to enable a maintenance worker to characterize a defect and record its location on the aircraft with a press of a button. This information can then be rapidly uploaded to signature assessment systems. The proof-of-concept for the technology has been demonstrated with a breadboard prototype of the system, and novel defect registration techniques have already been investigated. The team will now continue to enhance IAI’s existing characterization and localization technology and develop a next-generation AUTO-SCAN/XT system and demonstrate it in a relevant environment.