Aerospace students learning about ultrasonic testing

SPOKANE, Wash. - When it comes to aerospace, ultrasonic testing can turn up potential defects in both plane parts or existing aircraft, and this week local college students are attending an advanced class on how to inspect planes and parts for structural defects.

The same ultrasound technology used in hospitals is also being used in the aviation industry to look into an airframe to help determine if too much turbulence has taken its toll on an aircraft.  

"As far as the detection of defects we can figure out the initiation points of them. We can plot and let them know how big a certain type of defect is within the structure itself," ultrasonic testing expert Larry Culbertson said.

In aerospace, ultrasonic testing is used by airlines to regularly check for stress fractures in their aircraft.

ultrasonic testing

"What they'll do is have us go in and have us evaluate make sure there are no cracks in those areas and then give the aircraft the OK to continue on flying," Culbertson said.

This is why students studying aviation at Spokane Community College are learning more about non-destructive testing as part of their course curriculum.

"The community always does well when you have a skilled workforce and that's the goal of the Community Colleges of Spokane and the chancellor. It's a skilled workforce that we need and we're here to respond to business and industry," Sara Sexton-Johnson with Community Colleges of Spokane said.

The ultrasound class is one of several aerospace courses offered by CCS.

Last summer, 11 students graduated from SCC's aviation maintenance program and eight of them already have jobs working in Washington's aerospace industry.