MORFI at MRO Europe

Robot-based crack detection process

Lufthansa Technik has developed a robot-supported process for inspecting metallic aircraft fuselage structures. The result of the research project, "TCD - Thermographic Crack Detection", is a mobile robot, equipped with a thermographic probe unit, which passes over the outer skin of the aircraft fuselage on defined routes, inspecting the surface for cracks in a short time. The robot, MORFI (Mobile Robot for Fuselage Inspection), is fitted with active vacuum pads, enabling it to move and position itself even on vertical and overhanging sections of the fuselage.

Thermographic crack detection involves heating the area of the fuselage surface to be inspected by a few degrees with a brief electrical impulse induced using coils. An infrared camera is used to record the heated inspection area in real time. Cracks in the region being inspected have a characteristic temperature profile that clearly differentiates them from the background, because they heat more than the surrounding area. With the help of suitable analytical software, even the smallest cracks can be made visible and thereby identifiable.

The MORFI demonstrator robot, weighing in at just 75 kilograms, can be seen live at Lufthansa Technik's stand, Booth 478 at MRO Europe in Madrid from 7 to 9 October.