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Assessing internal engine damage with a borescope

Supplier: INLINE Systems | NDT Gear
29 May, 2013

When it comes to damage assessment deep inside an engine there is "simply no alternative" to a borescope system, according to MRO manager at Corporate Air, John Paul.

Corporate Air, an air charter and aircraft maintenance services provider, frequently relies on a borescope to inspect its fleet.

Recently a bird went through one of the company's aircraft turbine engines, meaning Paul and his team had to find out the extent of the internal damage caused by the unfortunate collision. They chose to purchase the RF Systems VJ 3.9mm articulating video borescope from imaging technology specialist Inline Systems in September 2012.

"We were able to discover quite quickly with the borescope exactly how far into the engine the bird had gone," Paul told IndustrySearch.

"That led us to remove the engine without needing to perform any disassembly to find out if there were more issues not visible from the outside.

"We could see the damage deep within the engine and in the end we didn't have to pull too much off."

While the engine had to be removed, a replacement has since been installed and the aircraft is back flying.

"Any time there's a requirement to see inside an engine we'll generally use this borescope," Paul said.

"It saved disassembly time since we could ascertain if anything needed to be pulled apart before actually starting the work. For interior wear and tear, there's no other way to do it."

Paul said the borescope driver had to reach about six inches inside the engine before performing a U-turn and heading back in the opposite direction.

"There's simply no alternative to achieving something like that," he said.

"As often happens we had to go through what's called a nozzle guide vane stage, which is like a series of stationary blades inside the engine. The borescope allowed us to do that and see inside.

"It's all about reducing time. If we can save time, and therefore money, that's the name of the game."

Paul said the borescope helped Corporate Air know the problem it was up against, before beginning disassembly, as the VJ 3.9mm can see into the smallest areas with its ultra-thin insertion tube and joystick 360 over 90dg in every possible direction at its bending section.

There is not a smaller four-way articulating video borescope anywhere in the world. Images and video can be captured during an inspection and saved directly to the built-in micro SD card with the click of a button.

"If we've got some sheet metal that's cracked on the outside we might look inside the structure to see if there's a reason why, which will sometimes tell us if we need to pull it apart or not," he said.

"We can take a photo of inside the engine, send it to the engine shop, and they can come back with an immediate answer."

Most members of the Corporate Air team have a lot of experience with these systems, and Paul said the VJ 3.9mm has become their borescope of choice.
"It's a tool we've always had – we've got three different brands here and this one is proving to be highly reliable, so we're very happy with it," Paul said.

"It is also very affordable for what it does."