In November I went to Zurich twice: once for the workshop that I wrote about last week [see ‘Fake facts and untrustworthy predictions’ on December 4th, 2019]; and, a second time for a progress meeting of the DIMES project [see ‘Finding DIMES’ on February 6th, 2019]. The progress meeting went well. The project is on schedule and within budget. So, everyone is happy and you are wondering why I am writing about it. It was what our team was doing around the progress meeting that was exciting. A few months ago, Airbus delivered a section of an A320 wing to the labs of EMPA who are our project partner in Switzerland, and the team at EMPA has been rigging the wing section for a simple bending test so that we can use it to test the integrated measurement system which we are developing in the DIMES project [see ‘Joining the dots’ on July 10th, 2019]. Before and after the meeting, partners from EMPA, Dantec Dynamics GmbH, Strain Solutions Ltd and my group at the University of Liverpool were installing our prototype systems to monitor the condition of the wing when we apply bending loads to it. There is some pre-existing damage in the wing that we hope will propagate during the test allowing us to track it with our prototype systems using visible and infra-red spectrum cameras as well as electrical and optical sensors. The data that we collect during the test will allow us to develop our data processing algorithms and, if necessary, refine the system design. The final stage of the DIMES project will involve installing a series of our systems in a complete wing undergoing a structural test in the new Airbus Wing Integration Centre (AWIC) in Filton, near Bristol in the UK. The schedule is ambitious because we will need to install the sensors for our systems in the wing in the first quarter of next year, probably before we have finished all of the tests in EMPA. However, the test in Bristol probably will not start until the middle of 2020, by which time we will have refined our algorithm for data processing and be ready for the deluge of data that we are likely to receive from the test at Airbus. The difference between the two wing tests besides the level of maturity of our measurement system, is that no damage should be detected in the wing at Airbus whereas there will be detectable damage in the wing section in EMPA. So, a positive result will be a success at EMPA but a negative result, i.e. no damage detected, will be a success at Airbus.
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