FIGURE 2 Size of total aircraft inventory (TAI) and cost of fleet operation and maintenance, FY 1962-2010. SOURCE: Katherine Stevens, AFRL, “AFRL and materials issues,” presentation to the committee on July 23, 2012, Slide no. 7.

A recent example in the first research thrust was technical information provided to support risk-mitigation actions in response to the discovery that nonconforming titanium had been used to fabricate aircraft parts in the inventory. By identifying the impact of nonconforming material on the parts’ properties to enable a component risk analysis for Air Force weapon systems, the Directorate was able to help limit the scope of the problem. Currently, using a part, component, or subsystem in a different system (aircraft) than the one for which it was qualified or certified requires requalifying or recertifying it for the system(s) of potential use. This pervasive qualification process demonstrates the challenge of ensuring system safety when common materials or components are not properly tracked.

With respect to improving fleet health management, Dr. Stevens said that the ultimate Air Force objective is to move to condition-based maintenance. The Materials and Manufacturing directorate’s research in nondestructive evaluation and inspection (NDE/I), such as research in multilayer crack detection, advances the move toward this objective, as does development of the capability to capture, retain, and rapidly retrieve analyses of materials and component or subsystem health from NDE/I data. In the short term, Air Force depots have adopted high-velocity maintenance for rapid turnaround, and they need appropriate evaluation techniques to support knowledge of systems before the systems or components



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