real-world experience

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Aviation Maintenance^ |^^ |^ June / July 2 016 49

structures and then determined the possible
improvements that could be obtained
through the use of more sophisticated
inspection methods, optimized procedures
and enhanced inspector training. This
research provided clear recommendations
and best practices for inspecting composites.
One recommendation that came out of these
experiments was to provide the industry with
more composites training. As follow-on to the
composite POD experiments, the FAA’s M&I
program decided to develop training material
and proficiency specimens for the industry.

Composites Training
Working with the industry, the FAA
developed a curriculum which teaches
airline inspectors the fundamentals of
composite materials, the specific processes
for inspecting composites and gives them

an opportunity to routinely inspect them.
Due to the fact that many older aircraft do
not have composite structures, inspectors
often do not get the chance to routinely
inspect them. These proficiency specimens
are a series of panels that have simulated
types of damage which offer inspectors
hands-on experience with working with
composites. The FAA is in the process of
finalizing the curriculum and proficiency
specimen exercises. Once these have
been finalized, a DOT final report will be
generated and the information will be
readily available to the public at the FAA’s
report library:
The Code of Federal Regulations
(CFR Part 147) regulates curriculums for
Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools

and requires that students be taught basic
information about the uses of composites in
aviation. This can be a very basic composite
awareness course or an extensive curriculum
preparing the students to be composite
repair technician. As part of the FAA’s effort
to proactively manage safety, the FAA is
updating this curriculum as well.
Commercial aviation is considered to be
one of the safest modes of transportation
today. This can be attributed to the hard work
and dedication of all of those working in the
industry. The industry is constantly evolving
and, as such, the FAA is always challenged to
keep pace. Working closely with the industry
the FAA will continue to set the standard
for the high level of safety found in today’s
commercial aviation.
For questions/comments/concerns: David
Westlund (david.westlund@faa.govAM

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