A4A/SAE Nondestructive Testing Award Honors Collins Aerospace-led Team for Additive Manufactured Parts Inspection Innovation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2019 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, and SAE International jointly presented the 17th annual Nondestructive Testing Innovation Award at the Nondestructive Testing (NDT) Forum today. The award was presented to a team comprised of representatives from Collins Aerospace, the United Technologies Research Center (UTC) and the University of Illinois for furthering the science and efficacy of nondestructive testing.

The Collins Aerospace-led team developed a technique using 3D Computed Tomography (CT) to establish a non-line-of-sight method of measuring surface roughness on critical aerospace parts. The ability to non-destructively evaluate surface roughness and detect defects inside a component allows for significant advances in technology development, as well as root-cause analysis. The new technique enables the evaluation of surface roughness inside the passages of additively manufactured (AM) fluid flow components. Understanding the surface roughness, and more specifically variation based upon AM process parameters, is critical to the design of the part to ensure optimal performance.

The members of the 2019 NDT Innovation Award team are Eric Karlen, Claire Brennan, Colette Fennessy and John Kowalski of Collins Aerospace; Thomas Yun of the United Technologies Research Center; and Deepa Kote of the University of Illinois.

“A4A congratulates this year’s winning team for their innovative approach to defining an NDT inspection method for additive manufactured parts that will further strengthen the U.S. airline industry’s world-class aviation safety record,” said Paul McGraw, A4A Vice President for Operations and Safety. “Working in partnership, this team reflects our commitment to utilizing the latest cutting-edge technology and innovation through all phases of flight to ensure the safety of the 2.4 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo that US airlines transport every day.”

A4A’s NDT Forum is marking its 62nd year at a four-day conference held in Long Beach, California, where industry leaders are meeting to discuss current trends, issues and successes in NDT methodologies. The event features a number of presentations on achievements and lessons learned about technologies that help ensure the longevity and safety of aircraft structures by detecting defects well before they can be seen or cause a failure. This year’s presentations showcased methodologies associated with composite structures, additive manufacturing and structural health monitoring.


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.7 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. U.S. airlines fly 2.4 million passengers and more than 58,000 tons of cargo each day. Airlines for America (A4A) advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.

A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor, Congress, the Administration and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.

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