Nondestructive Testing Program Introduction
To support its mission in providing the safest and most efficient aerospace system in the world, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created the Airport Technology Research and Development Branch (ATR). The ATR serves to ensure the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the United States airport network by discovering and evaluating new technologies and methods and by informing the policies, standards, and regulatory guidance required to meet the evolving demands of the aerospace industry.
With the expected growth of the industry in the coming decades, airports will need to remain in service longer and have higher capacities to accommodate the increased numbers of flight and larger aircraft to carry more passengers and freight. To ensure this, airport managers will require comprehensive and rational evaluations of their pavements for more efficient and effective maintenance and repair decisions. Nondestructive testing (NDT) technologies provide the means to do so.
While traditional evaluation methods rely heavily on subjective visual inspections and material analyses requiring destructive investigation operations, NDT can supplant or supplement these methods with quantified data collection that leaves the evaluated system intact. NDT can be performed quickly, with relatively little disruption to airport operations, and provide structural and functional information about the in-situ pavement conditions.
Through the ATR, the FAA conducts research to develop and implement NDT technologies for the evaluation and management of airport pavements. This includes the operation of a suite of NDT systems and several extensive research projects that directly support the FAA’s objective of strengthening the national airport network to meet growing demands. These efforts are spotlighted here to raise awareness of NDT and its importance to the evolving demands of the aerospace industry.
- NDT Technology – Systems employed by the FAA
- Showcase Research Projects – Research conducted by the FAA for the development of NDT technologies and their employment
- Future Research and Objectives – Upcoming research initiatives