Radiation Hazards

Radiation from x-ray units and radioisotope sources is destructive to living tissue. It is universally recognized that in the use of such equipment, adequate protection must be provided. Personnel must keep outside the primary x-ray beam at all times.

Radiation produces changes in all matter through which it passes. This is also true of living tissue. When radiation strikes the molecules of the body, the effect may be no more than to dislodge a few electrons, but an excess of these changes could cause irreparable harm. When a complex organism is exposed to radiation, the degree of damage, if any, depends on which of its body cells have been changed.

Vital organs in the center of the body that are penetrated by radiation are likely to be harmed the most. The skin usually absorbs most of the radiation and reacts earliest to radiation.

If the whole body is exposed to a very large dose of radiation, death could result. In general, the type and severity of the pathological effects of radiation depend on the amount of radiation received at one time and the percentage of the total body exposed. Smaller doses of radiation could cause blood and intestinal disorders in a short period of time. The more delayed effects are leukemia and other cancers. Skin damage and loss of hair are also possible results of exposure to radiation.

Inspection of Composites

Composite structures should be inspected for delamination, which is separation of the various plies, debonding of the skin from the core, and evidence of moisture and corrosion. Previously discussed methods including ultrasonic, acoustic emission, and radiographic inspections may be used as recommended by the aircraft manufacturer. The simplest method used in testing composite structures is the tap test.

Tap Testing

Tap testing, also referred to as the ring test or coin test, is widely used as a quick evaluation of any accessible surface to detect the presence of delamination or debonding. The testing procedure consists of lightly tapping the surface with a light hammer (maximum weight of 2 ounces), a coin or other suitable device. The acoustic response or “ring" is compared to that of a known good area. A “flat" or “dead" response indicates an area of concern. Tap testing is limited to finding defects in relatively thin skins, less than 0.080" thick. On honeycomb structures, both sides need to be tested. Tap testing on only one side would not detect debonding on the opposite side.

Electrical Conductivity

Composite structures are not inherently electrically conductive. Some aircraft, because of their relatively low speed and type of use, are not affected by electrical issues. Manufacturers of other aircraft, such as highspeed high-performance jets, are required to utilize various methods of incorporating aluminum into their structures to make them conductive. The aluminum is imbedded within the plies of the lay-ups either as a thin wire mesh, screen, foil, or spray. When damaged sections of the structure are repaired, care must be taken to ensure that the conductive path be restored. Not only is it necessary to include the conductive material in the repair, but the continuity of the electrical path from the original conductive material to the replacement conductor and back to the original must be maintained. Electrical conductivity may be checked by use of an ohmmeter. Specific manufacturer’s instructions must be carefully followed.

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