EngD student, 2014 intake
Research: Robotic deployment of NDE probes inside aircraft engines for on-wing inspection
University: Imperial College
Sponsoring company: Rolls-Royce plc
BSc+MSc in Aeronautical Engineering, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, April 2014, including three semesters abroad, which allowed me to focus on systems control. My final project was concerned with the analysis and development of an automated system for aerospace applications.
Recent advances in ultrasonic imaging allow the NDE of anisotropic complex shape components, such as single crystal Ti gas-turbine blades. However, the cost of dismantling an aircraft engine to inspect it is significant – approximately half million pounds. My EngD project aims at researching and developing a robotic manipulator to deploy novel NDE probes inside aircraft engines while on-wing.
Access to the inner parts of a gas turbine – where the high pressure compressor blades, and discs affected by cold dwell cracking are located – is highly constrained. Furthermore, once in the engine area of interest, the confined spaces limit significantly the manoeuvrability of any manipulator. As a result, there is a need for a new robotic mechanism capable of accurate final deployment of NDE probes into the desired target position, which will be investigated and developed in my EngD project. The device will also have to ensure the correct adaptation of the probe shape to the inspected component geometry, which will most likely require the use of state-of-the-art flexible transducer arrays. In addition, systems to obtain feedback from both the array shape (to determine delay laws) and its location (to aid in the positioning control) will need to be explored and integrated into a final automated mechanism.