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Metal Fatigue: What it is and How it is Detected

28/02/2019 | Fallon Anawalt

All metals deform eventually especially when they are under great stress as the flight does to airplanes. This deformation is called metal stress or fatigue and it is a vital part of maintaining aircraft so that they are safe for pilots and the public in general. At TECI we provide a great variety of aircraft parts including Jetstream airframe parts. (We also sell TPE consumable kits.) Here are several ways engineers have to detect metal fatigue in aircraft

Visual inspection: Back in the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright a visual inspection of their craft was all that was needed to ascertain whether or not there was external damage done to it. Today, methods for detecting metal fatigue are far more sophisticated and non-destructive for the most part. However, a visual inspection can still be one tool that pilots and mechanics use to spot cracks or other ruptures in the aircraft.

Auditory inspection: Oftentimes a thumping sound can give engineers a clue that metal fatigue is on the horizon. However, it takes an astute and experienced engineer to be able to detect a potential problem in this manner.

Ultrasound: Very high pitches can be used to find cracks inside materials. This method is a non-destructive type of metal diagnosis that got its start in the medical field.

Radiology: X-rays and other kinds of radiography can be used to find sub-surface cracks without harming testers or the aircraft in question. Using this non-destructive method, a radiographer would hold a weak radiation source attached to a pole in position for the duration of the exposure to the parts of the plane to be tested.

Visible dyes: This method uses fluorescent dyes to detect surface cracks.
Magnetic powders: Finally, this method only works on iron-based parts. This metal is relatively rare in most modern aircraft that are in service.

If the craft in your fleet show signs of metal fatigue it may be time to order airframe parts. This is especially true if you own a Jetstream 31. However, we sell a large variety of parts and even sell your excess inventory on a consignment basis. This means we get a percentage of what the excess inventory will sell for.