The F-35 Lightning II programme at US Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) has tested a tool that can help detect corrosion on aircraft.

Known as Grey Gecko Real-Time Inspection Tool (GRIT) system, the tool can help identify corrosion through coatings.

FRCE F-35 Joint Program Office site lead Matt Crisp said: “Corrosion is a recurring theme across all forms of aviation, resulting in huge cost and fleet availability impacts.

“Current detection methods for most aircraft involve visual inspection using traditional tools.

“These inspections are time consuming, sometimes require additional efforts like removing paint, and can be highly subjective based on inspector techniques, experience and attention to detail.”

According to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the tool uses a mid-wave infrared (IR) camera to ‘visually penetrate’ the aircraft coatings and record images of the surface below.

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Research and technology solutions proider Grey Gecko estimates that the use of GRIT for non-destructive inspection can reduce corrosion-caused aircraft downtime by nearly 25% and lower the requirement of inspection manpower by over 50% in some applications.

As part of the GRIT demonstration, a team of engineers from aircraft lines across the depot and members of the Naval Air Systems Command Advanced Technology and Innovation (ATI) Team at FRCE discussed the tool with its designers at Grey Gecko.

FRCE is the largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider in North Carolina. It has more than 4,000 civilian, military, and contract workers.

In March, the FRCE accepted delivery of an F-35 airframe from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort in South Carolina.