Standard Article

Nondestructive Testing and Evaluation of Composite Aerospace Structures

  1. John P. Smith1,
  2. Lik-Kwan Shark2

Published Online: 20 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118097298.weoc004

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

How to Cite

Smith, J. P. and Shark, L.-K. 2012. Nondestructive Testing and Evaluation of Composite Aerospace Structures. Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites. 1–42.

Author Information

  1. 1

    BAE Systems, Bridge Road, Barrow in Furness, England

  2. 2

    University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, England

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUL 2012


There is a broad range of approaches and technologies used for nondestructive testing and evaluation (NDT&E) of composite aerospace structures. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the most common measurement methods used in the aircraft manufacturing sector for nondestructive detection of internal defects in carbon fibre composite structures, as well as signal and image processing techniques available for computer-assisted evaluation. The problems and challenges faced by NDT&E are first explained in terms of typical composite aerospace components, typical defects, and general inspection requirements. Four most common production NDT techniques are then presented in detail, covering principal aspects of ultrasound, radiography, shearography, and thermography in terms of their operating principles, performance, and applications to composite aerospace components. This is followed by signal processing methods for NDT signal enhancement, detection, and restoration as well as image processing methods for mosaicking of multiple NDT images, registration with component CAD model, fusion of multimodality NDT images, defect visualisation, and automatic defect detection. Finally, future NDT&E trends are highlighted based on current technology progress.


  • aerospace nondestructive testing and evaluation;
  • ultrasound;
  • radiography;
  • shearography;
  • thermography;
  • signal and image processing in nondestructive testing