Photo courtesy of Fluxtronic

On May 25, 2012 a severe hail storm hit Dallas, Texas. As a result, 62 American Airlines aircraft were taken out of service for damage inspection and 217 American flights were cancelled. More than 50 of the planes required immediate repair. The ability to quickly repair the planes, which included using a new dent removal technology, saved the airline millions. American Airlines and others were able to reestablish flight schedules in hours not days, preserving customer goodwill.

Electromagnetic Dent Removal (EDR) is a relatively new process that is being utilized by airlines, manufacturers and maintenance centers to repair aircraft skins damaged by hail, bird strikes and other factors which can harm control surfaces. The savings in labor and time can be significant. Many repairs can be done in minutes or hours vs. days or weeks thus minimizing labor costs and aircraft downtime.

 

EDR works on any electrically conductive material but does not require the material being repaired to be ferromagnetic.  Aluminum skinned aircraft are ideal for this process and are preferred based on their superior conductivity.

The process uses a highly sophisticated power supply and electromagnet. Together, they create a changing magnetic field. An electrical current is induced into the metal (such as a dented aluminum aircraft wing) and at a given point, the field is rapidly reduced creating a force in the work area that “pushes” the area out, just as the strike of a hammer would do.  Usually, a repair will require a series of “pulls,” which can be done without damage to the paint. EDR can be done without an evident footprint. It doesn’t affect avionics and can even be used on fueled aircraft.

“We used this equipment to remove a dent from a Falcon 900 engine nacelle inlet ring a few years ago with good results.  It’s an interesting process that many people would not believe would work on aluminum aircraft parts because aluminum by itself is not magnetic,” explains Brian Lockhart, VP of Global Aviation.

Several companies provide the service including Fluxtronic www.fluxtronic.com and Electroimpact www.electroimpact.com

Falcon 20 leading edge hail damage. (Courtesy Fluxtronic’s website)

Before and after:  The amount of deformation can be estimated by the ratio of the depth and the diameter. These two dents, the most severe on the aircraft, were three times the severity of what former electromagnetic dent removal technology was capable of repairing.

The amount of deformation can be estimated by the ratio of the depth and the diameter of the dents.

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