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Non-Destructive Testing: Safran Engineering Services banks on its software suite


LEAP engine fan blades, fixed internal structure panels for their nacelles, internal landing gear pistons... these items all have one thing in common: their quality is inspected and assessed using non-destructive testing (NDT), for which Safran Engineering Services has developed the SMV2 software suite. The development prospects are promising.

CND robotic (Non Destructive Testing) method by infrared thermography on a complex composite acoustic panel of the A320neo nacelle thrust reverser
Safran Nacelles' Burnley site is synonymous with the manufacture of nacelle systems and thrust reversers. In recent years, the site had been primarily associated with the Airbus A330, but is now embarking on new programmes such as the Airbus A320neo and Comac C919.

Non-destructive testing: a technique for the future.

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a technique used to inspect and assess the quality of materials, components or structures, while preserving their integrity. It uses a variety of methods and technologies to detect defects such as cracks, porosities, inclusions, dimensional variations and other potential imperfections in the materials. Safran uses this type of technology to inspect metal and composite parts, including large-scale components.

The Group therefore called on internal and external expertise to develop high-performance non-destructive testing tools. One of the most ambitious, enabling the inspection of fixed internal nacelle structure panels, is based on an infrared thermography inspection method using a flash and a thermal camera. “This is an innovative method. Others use digital tomography, 2D digital radiography or visual inspection with high-definition digital cameras,” explains Marc Garas, application software service manager at Safran Engineering Services.

Safran Engineering Services has been involved in the research phases of these projects from the outset, and it has developed a software suite, a veritable toolbox that can be adapted to different testing projects.

The SMV2 software suite

This software suite, known as SMV2, has been designed for the Group’s various use cases, from the different acquisition methods - thermography, tomography, radiography and digital cameras - to the geometric specificities of each part and the types of peculiarities to be investigated. The Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs) have been the subject of extensive ergonomic research to help inspectors in their work.

Integrated into a robotized cell, the software suite performs multiple functions. “In the case of nacelle parts, it communicates with the robotized cell and controls the infra-red camera built into the cell, as well as the flash which heats the surface of the part. It allows images to be analyzed by an operator to detect any defects. It supervises the entire process in real time, and stores information in a database which can then be used by data scientists or production managers,” continues Marc Garas. An inspection report, which is used to validate the part, can then be generated automatically.

We must also aim to constantly improve the software’s algorithms, in close collaboration with Safran Tech, to obtain the best detection and characterization performance, reduce the system’s learning time, and continue to work on simplified ergonomics that facilitate analysis.

A 100% non-destructive testing consortium 

To facilitate the deployment of non-destructive testing projects within Safran, an initial consortium agreement was signed at the Paris Air Show between Safran Engineering Services, Axiome and Groupe ADF (LATESYS), manufacturers of the robotized cell and integrators. “This agreement demonstrates Safran’s confidence in our product, which is part of the digitalization of the Group’s processes, which is known as Manufacturing 4.0. Whether in maintenance, repair or operations (MRO), the potential applications to be addressed are enormous. This will enable us, by 2024, to provide a global, high-performance, tailor-made non-destructive testing solution, with a robotized cell and secure integrated software suite, within the Group and even beyond -– in short, a major step towards digital continuity!” concludes Marc Garas.