RAF Wittering News

Skip to content

First for RAF Non-Destructive Testing technicians

Technicians from RAF Wittering have become the first personnel in the UK to qualify in X-Ray Computed Tomography.

The Non-Destructive Testing experts
The Non-Destructive Testing experts
Image By: Cpl Chantelle Gregg

As part of Project WARHOL, four Non-Destructive Testing Technicians from 71 (Inspection & Repair) Squadron have become the first personnel in the UK to train and qualify to the internationally recognised aerospace standard in X-Ray Computed Tomography. 

 This highly sophisticated 3D scanning technology is being used to assure the internal structural composition and validity of additive manufactured components being produced. The system also compliments other NDT methods by inspecting traditionally manufactured aircraft parts to reveal defects as small as 40 microns (0.04 mm).

Flt Sgt Mark Silva said: “The Non-Destructive Testing experts from the Sqn have been key in delivering a product that will ensure the Royal Air Force is and will continue to be a driving force in technology development. We must always look push the bounds of technology and science if we want to continue to operate at the highest standards.  The adaptive manufacture facility at 71 (IR) Sqn has shown the RAF’s desire to lead industry in achieving some remarkable outcomes.”  

 To be eligible for X-Ray Computed Tomography conversion training, personnel must first be qualified Level 2/3 Radiographers in a 2D digital technique. This prior qualification can take more than 2 years to achieve, with at least 800 hours of on-the-job X-Ray training required. Highly competent radiographers, Mr Guy Lawton, Chief Tech Dodd, Chief Tech Conway-Wallace, and Cpl Crampton were selected to undertake the 4-part qualification package.

With all four individuals successfully completing their final exams during December 2023, 71 (IR) Squadron is the first organisation in the UK (military or civilian) to qualify Level 2 & 3 NDT personnel in X-ray Computed Tomography to the internationally recognised aerospace standard.

Inspection and repair squadron badge
71 Inspection and Repair Squadron Badge

Cpl Crampton said: “It's really rewarding to know that I am one of the first people to achieve this qualification and I am very excited about the opportunity to implement this new Non-Destructive Testing technique within the armed forces. While we have gained this qualification our work is not finished, with lots of standards and practices to be written and developed as well as consolidating my skills on the equipment there are still challenges to overcome moving forward which I relish.”

Wg Cdr Mark Concarr, Deputy Commander of the Support Force, said: “Non-Destructive Testing is a vital Royal Air Force maintenance activity to enable safe air operations in the UK and around the world. This new 3D digital X-ray computed tomography capability is a huge technological leap forward for the continued airworthiness of aircraft and the journey to fully utilise this has just started.”

The highly trained personnel have spent many months getting to know every facet of the X-ray computed tomography scanner and the complex software, which is a huge advancement on routine Non-Destructive Testing techniques. The team would not have been able to succeed in achieving their successful completion of their examinations without the support and guidance from industry partners and would like to thank Mr James Willcocks (Rolls-Royce NDE), Mr David Blacklock (International School of Aerospace NDT), Mr James Finch (Nikon) and Mr Kevin Pickup (NANDTB Chair) for their guidance, advice, and support.

Connect with RAF Wittering