Laser shearography as a non-destructive testing (NDT) method has been used in a production environment for composite structures for two decades and on a variety of aircraft, including the F-22 stealth fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II, the Cessna Citation X, the Raytheon Premier I, a variety of Airbus aircraft and the NASA Space Shuttles. As a non-contact NDT method, laser shearography is well-suited to automation. In fact, an automated Shearography system was installed almost two decades ago at Airbus Helicopter (then Eurocopter) in La Courneuve, France. Supplied by Dantec Dynamics in 1998, it was used to inspect helicopter rotor blades made from composites and was reportedly the first such system used for production control in Europe.
This technology has since been modernized, using modular sensors on computer- controlled robotic arms and advanced software, enabling improved detection, image analysis, and defect characterization. These advances offer rapid, 100% inspection of complex composite structures — including helicopter rotor blades, aircraft sub- assemblies and space system components — and enable identification of a wide range of defects: disbonds, delamination, cracks, wrinkles, crushed core, fluid ingress, repair defects, voids, foreign objects, and barely visible impact damage.