AEDC von Kármán Facility benefits from X-ray Lab team’s innovative efforts

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- During the recent pressure system recertification effort at the von Kármán Gas Dynamics Facility at Arnold Air Force Base, the AEDC Nondestructive Testing and X-ray Lab team members identified a crack-like flaw in a high-pressure vessel but were able to implement a technique that allowed the vessel to remain in service.

According to Ken Delaney, Fitness for Service (FSS) analysis was used to determine if the vessel could remain in use, and if so, its remaining life and the frequency it would need to be inspected.

“Depth of the flaw is a critical factor in the FFS analysis,” Delaney said.

Delaney, along with help from his colleagues Bart England, James Lucas and Ricky Dycus, developed a radiographic technique to determine the flaw’s depth.

“To validate the technique, a mock-up was fabricated including simulated flaws,” he said. “This technique provided confidence in the flaw depth measurement and supported the FFS process, which in this case allowed the vessel to remain in service with an inspection interval of two years.”

This technique is now being used on flaws in several other vessels undergoing the recertification process.

Dr. Woodrow Whitlow Jr., technical director at Arnold AFB for Test Operations and Sustainment contractor National Aerospace Solutions, LLC, stated the X-ray Lab team’s success is “another example of how the AEDC workforce is using highly innovative ideas to address every day issues and provide immediate and long-term benefits to test operations."

Innovation is a central focus of the Air Force, which leverages many channels to empower its Airmen and industry partners to submit ideas as part of an overarching culture of innovation.

The importance of innovation is continuously emphasized by Air Force leadership.

“We are a service whose roots and history are very deep in innovation, and I want to make sure that we’re not losing that... I think we need to refresh and revitalize the innovative spirit of the Air Force,” said Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein also has commented on its value.

“We are the service you rely on to push the limits of innovation,” Gen. Goldfein said. “It’s in our bloodline. We’ve faced challenges before and overcome them with ideas.”

The NAS Technology Innovations Branch staff at Arnold Air Force Base is working to create technical competencies, and at the same time, ensures that its employees are recognized as the driving force behind these advances.

“Our Technology Innovations Branch is currently focused on cultivating the total portfolio of our innovation pursuits,” said David Miller, a group manager for Technology Innovations with NAS. “As part of leadership's commitment to cultivating new technical competencies, we are recognizing our best innovators in accomplishing our mission during our daily work.”

If you have an idea about how to do work more efficiently or how to reduce mission risk, the Technical Innovations Branch managers would like to hear about it. Contact the Technical Innovations Branch at 454-7491.