Tuesday 24th May 2016; Trials by Leonardo Helicopters of the GapGun measurement system from Third Dimension have reduced MRO inspection times for interior and exterior composite panels by almost 90 per cent, in early results. The military helicopter manufacturer is conducting the trial on servicing of AgustaWestland Merlin helicopters at the Royal Navy’s base at Culdrose.

GapGun, the hand-held laser measurement tool, enables a quick, accurate and detailed profile measurement to be taken of the depth of scratches on helicopter panels and aircraft gearbox components. This enables operators to establish whether the depth of the scratches are within the 0.15mm limit, and therefore determine whether the parts need to be repaired or replaced.

        AW Helicopters web  DSC2864web

Using GapGun, results are consistent and comparable over time. Measurements are repeatable meaning they are consistent no matter who conducts the investigation whereas previously results differed from one operator to the next. Since introducing the GapGun, the time it takes to inspect individual panels has been reduced extensively.

While quantifying the total man-hours and money the GapGun saves per aircraft is still being measured, a process which could take up to eight months, Keith Masterton, AgustaWestland’s Merlin Depth Business Manager, said: “We recently did a check on a panel and, whereas the previous manual process using a depth gauge took two-and-a-half hours, the GapGun measures it in just 20 minutes.”

“It gives us a very quick indication as to whether the damaged area, or perceived damaged area, is within acceptable limits.”

The GapGun is also being used by Leonardo on aircraft gearboxes he said. “The GapGun is so easy to use – after a couple of hours you’re trained - and you can’t misinterpret the reading. It is a much quicker process,” he added.

Previous inspection systems were more time consuming using a depth gauge with parts being taken away for inspection, often for days at a time. Steve Rogers, Applications Support Engineer at Third Dimension, said: “Now with just a simple point and a click of the GapGun measurements can be taken in seconds saving valuable time and money. The full potential of how the GapGun can benefit Leonardo is just being realised.”

In addition to servicing Naval helicopters, Leonardo is also using the GapGun to quickly and efficiently assess unused aircraft panels to see if they can be put to future use. The GapGun can be applied to virtually all manufacturing industries for quality inspection and is already being utilised in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors.

It is Third Dimension’s philosophy that measurement systems are all about helping turn measurement data into information to help improve production lines in real time. Based in Bristol, Third Dimension has a long track record of supplying metrology equipment and services to the largest names in aerospace and automotive worldwide, such as Jaguar Land Rover and Airbus. It has the capability to help manufacturers around the globe realise the benefits of non-contact measurement and can integrate seamlessly with customers’ own systems.  

For more information or to discuss this application further, please contact sales@third.com or call us on 03333 44 3000.