Aircraft composite material evaluation – visual and “tap test”

Composite panels and structures are used all over the aircraft now and depending on type this may include structural elements; it is why the aircraft composite material evaluation – visual and “tap test” knowledge are so important.

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In order for us to evaluate composite material it is important to understand some of the recognised and readily available inspection methods. Some of these include:

“Tap test” where damage to composite can change the tone of sound we hear based on a solid object like a coin or tap testing hammer impacting against the adhesion of the composite layers or composite material to another material such as honeycomb.

Light – we can use light shone over a surface to create shadows or deflections which then become easily visible. This can indicate delamination or impact damage and we can then inspect this area easier.

What would you visually look for – examples would include irregular surfaces, stress lines, erosion, broken surfaces, or other signs of damage.

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