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Imperium's AcoustoCam™ Imaging Technology Selected for Bell Helicopter FAA Joint Research Project
Handheld ultrasound imaging tool to be used for remote inspection of composite materials
03-10-2010 – BELTSVILLE, MD – Imperium, Inc., the sole developer and manufacturer of ultrasound imaging cameras for Non-Destructive Inspection ("NDI") announced today the company's AcoustoCam™ i600, the world's only handheld portable camera device, has been selected by Bell Helicopter as part of their joint program with the FAA to develop inspection technology and techniques to address maintenance concerns due to the growing usage of composite materials in structural applications for modern rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft.
"Imperium's smaller, rugged, and portable ultrasonic imaging tool is an innovative technology that we believe may provide a solution to rapid inspection of composite components for damage and manufacturing flaws," said Jeffrey Nissen, Program Manager and Principle Investigator for the R&D project at Bell Helicopter. "We have a good relationship with Imperium and are looking forward to working together to develop inspection technology for future composite aircraft maintenance."
Nissen is leading the FAA research project and has selected the Imperium AcoustoCam for the FAA program specifically to address composite inspection concerns. During their development effort Bell will be researching Imperium's technology as well as several other promising technologies to determine suitability as a rapid inspection device which enables minimally trained operators to make faster, more accurate maintenance decisions, and with greater confidence. The developed technology will have application to Bell composite rotorcraft such as the newly certified Bell 429, 407, 412 and Bell/Agusta 609 as well as fixed wing composite aircraft.
The FAA-funded research titled 'Nondestructive Inspection Research of Composite Materials Used on the Commercial Fleet' was initiated due to the increased usage of composite structures in both commercial and general aviation aircraft. By the nature of their fabrication, composites pose new and unique challenges to aviation inspectors. As their usage continues to expand from secondary to primary structures, improved nondestructive inspection (NDI) methods will be required to better detect and characterize anomalies in these materials such as due to impacts and manufacturing flaws.
In February 2010, Imperium announced the newer, smaller and more rugged version of the AcoustoCam – the AcoustoCam™ i600. The new technology is lighter, more robust and easier to handle for remote field inspections and testing.
About Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter, a wholly owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.