Thursday, May 27 2004
Iowa State to study aging military aircraft
The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation at Iowa State University has won a $6.5 million contract to research nondestructive evaluation techniques for assessing the aging of military aircraft. The award, from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the most recent in many collaborations between the center and the U.S. Air Force.
Nondestructive evaluation tests a structure's ability to perform a function and prevent failure without destroying the sample. The Air Force project focuses on improving non-destructive evaluation techniques and applying them to the challenges presented by the military branch's aging fleet, much of which is at least 25 years old.
"[The contract] is part of a national response to increased need for military readiness," said R. Bruce Thompson, CNDE director and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering at ISU. "The ultimate benefit to the Air Force is a fleet of aircraft that is available for use a large percentage of the time, and will perform reliably at a minimum cost."
The center and the Air Force have reviewed more than 20 different non-destructive evaluation technologies to determine which are best suited to meet the Air Force's inspection challenges. For instance, one project goal is to extend the life of critical components such as jet engines; their parts can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
"Clearly, if you don't have to throw away a $20,000 part because its useful life is extended, that's significant cost savings," Thompson said. Complete story.
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