University of Akron, AMES seek FAA certification for cold spray technology

The University of Akron (UA) and Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services (AMES) are collaborating to obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for “cold spray” repair of corroded and worn parts on commercial aircraft, the university said.

The goal of the joint project is to provide faster, market competitive, and safer airplane repairs. Supersonic Particle Deposition (SPD) is an aircraft repair method for applying metal particles to rebuild the surfaces of corroded and worn parts. The technique involves a high pressure spraying process in which metal particles contained in a supersonic jet of an expanded gas impact a solid surface with sufficient energy to cause bonding with the surface. This additive manufacturing process builds up and repairs the surface of the metal part without creating a heat-affected zone that would occur during welding or high temperature thermal spray.

Development and testing has been underway for two years, funded by the Ohio Legislature, and supported by UA´s National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance (NCERCAMP) in collaboration with AMES, SAFEngineering, Inc., and US Technology Corporation. The data gathered has provided the foundation required for FAA approval of SPD dimensional restoration of aircraft structure.

Housed at UA, NCERCAMP was established by Congress and the US Department of Defense (DoD) provides in response to requests from private industry and the DoD to help address the cost of corrosion on the nation´s economy, estimated at more than USD 400bn annually.

Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services is a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company that occupies nearly a half-million square feet of hangar and component repair/overhaul facilities at the Wilmington Air Park in southwest Ohio, plus an additional 340,000 sq. ft. in Tampa, Florida. They employ more than 800 persons at their Wilmington facility. AMES is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group.

SAFEngineering Corporation (SAFE, Inc.) is a research, development, test, and evaluation company providing aircraft engineering and certification services for commercial airlines and MROs. The company has developed the FAA Certification Plan; process specification; mechanical and environmental test plans; repair substantiation; and repair specification. In collaboration with UA, SAFE is executing the robust test program required by the FAA.