New modified COTS device helps repair engines and airframes before they break
Recognizing cracks and engine debris allow aircraft to last longer by preventing some of the most common reasons for aircraft damage. If a chunk of debris falls into a running engine the blades will often be damaged, or if a crack is allowed to expand the entire aircraft can be rendered inoperable. By recognizing these problems early both lives and money can be saved.
Borescopes were used to detect engine debris in the past, but the systems generated low-quality black and white images and used a rigid probe that prevented the borescope from providing a full inspection of the aircraft and engines it was looking into. The new system features a long, flexible insertion tube with a color screen that allows inspectors to get a 360-degree view of the aircraft or engine, enabling them to find problems previous systems could not locate.
The system is based off of a COTS product, making the system significantly cheaper than legacy borescopes. The new systems cost roughly half the price of old borescopes.
This is a great example of modified COTS products replacing older, more specialized systems while providing better service at a cheaper price. When it comes to repairs and inspection, COTS products make sense as they aren't mission critical devices. Could COTS be part of the solution for surviving on the shrinking defense budget?