When it comes to inspecting, maintaining and repairing aircraft, borescopes have been a standard part of the AMT’s toolkit for decades. As borescope technology has advanced over the years, these instruments have become more and more useful in a widening array of aviation-related applications. The key driver behind the growing applicability of borescopes in aviation maintenance is miniaturization.
Industrial RVI (Remote Visual Inspection) has benefited from advanced camera technology, allowing for the creation of smaller and smaller video-based borescopes. As borescopes become smaller—specifically borescope insertion tubes that house the camera and illuminating LEDs—they can be inserted into ever smaller components and pathways, bringing the advantages of RVI to an increasing number of aviation maintenance and repair scenarios. Smaller diameter borescopes are allowing for more inspection points and more applications to capture images without sacrificing high resolution.
“Because the biggest limiting factor for the use of borescopes is accessibility, and as cameras and illuminating LEDs get smaller and smaller, they can be snaked into smaller and smaller areas while still delivering the required level of image quality,” says Edward Thomas, aerospace applications specialist, RF Systems Lab, Traverse City, Mich. “Twenty years ago, the smallest video-based borescopes were 6.0 mm in diameter and required fiberoptic strands for illumination. Over the years, this diameter shrank by 33 percent as 4.0mm diameter video-based borescopes were introduced, some illuminated by fiberoptics and others by ultra-small LEDs. It’s obvious that when you shrink the diameter of a borescope insertion tube, you increase the number of areas in which it will fit, thereby increasing the number of potential applications.”
One potential aviation application that may require agile viewing manipulation is the latest generation of jet engines with smaller blades and smaller access passages. To inspect these engines, a probe is necessary which is either thin enough to pass through the engine, or a probe with high-resolution, longer-range viewing capability. “The combination of high light output and advanced image processing available in GE RVI video probes provides clear inspection images in areas where previous generation products could only provide dark, grainy images unsuitable for making serviceability assessments,” says Thomas Britton, application specialist for aerospace and military markets, GE Measurement & Control, Inspection Technologies division, Skaneateles, N.Y.
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