Airlines for America and SAE International Recognize Lufthansa Technik, for Nondestructive Testing Innovation

Industry applauds Karsten Kaiser of Lufthansa Technik and Michael Ernst of subsidiary for furthering the science and efficacy of nondestructive testing.

The thermographic method of measurement is applied during a mobile mission to the vertical tail unit of a Lufthansa aircraft.

Officials at SAE International in Warrendale, Pa., and Airlines for America (A4A) in Washington are recognizing Karsten Kaiser of Lufthansa Technik and Michael Ernst of subsidiary for furthering the science and efficacy of nondestructive testing (NDT), having presented them with the 16t­­­­­­h annual Nondestructive Testing  (NDT ) Innovation Award at A4A’s annual NDT Forum last week in Seattle.

Measurement of a test piece using thermography

Lufthansa Technik developed an automated inspection procedure for engine components (AutoInspect), and then added an automated process chain for the repair of engine components (AutoRep) in 2016. The results of these two successful research and development projects were subsequently linked and then transferred to operative use. In mid-2018, the automated inspection and repair procedures were combined into a single process chain, effectively reducing process time from nearly seven hours to four hours per component inspection.

“We congratulate this year’s winning team for their commitment to utilizing cutting-edge technology and innovation to improve and automate inspection systems for engine components,” says Paul McGraw, A4A’s vice president of safety and operations. “This work further strengthens the U.S. airline industry’s world-class safety record through all phases of flight to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for the 2.3 million customers who fly on U.S. airlines every day.”

Equipment designers, technicians, regulatory authorities, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), airline, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) professionals attend A4A’s NDT Forum, now in its 61st year, to discuss current trends, issues, and successes in NDT methodologies. The event focuses on achievements and lessons learned about technologies that help ensure the life and safety of aircraft structures by detecting defects well before they can be seen or cause a failure. This year’s topics showcased methodologies associated with composite structures, additive manufacturing, and structural health monitoring (SHM).

Using thermography, it is possible to render the damaged areas visible (black circles).

Commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity annually and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. Airlines fly more than 2.3 million passengers and 55,000 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 groups, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.

SAE International is a global body of scientists, engineers, and practitioners that advances self-propelled vehicle and system knowledge in a neutral forum for the benefit of society. SAE International is a global association of more than 127,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial-vehicle industries.

Courtney E. Howard  is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..