NDT Seminar, Sydney, 18-19 March 2020 (Cancelled)

Update: On 12 March 2020, the NANDTB cancelled the Seminar because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Nondestructive testing (NDT) is often the last line of defence against structural failure. If the NDT misses a fatigue crack, there are usually no second chances after a wing breaks. Yes, NDT is vital to aviation safety. I therefore recommend to you this next seminar organised by Australia’s National Aerospace NDT Board (NANDTB).

I am on the NANDTB and will speak on: ‘A Life Saving Conversation — When the design engineer calls …’. Others will speak from CASA, airlines, NDT vendors and Defence. There will be vendor displays.

Click here for more details and to register (great value at only $150). I hope to see you there!

ICAF 2019: Plantema Lecture and Medal

On 5 June 2019, in Kraków, Poland, I was honoured to present the Plantema Memorial Lecture (the keynote address) and receive the Plantema Medal at the 30th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue and Structural Integrity (ICAF).

Plantema Medal

From Wikipedia:

The Plantema Medal has been established by ICAF in 1967. It is a career award that is presented to a selected leading member of the structural integrity community. The award recipient is invited to deliver a keynote lecture at the start of the biennial symposium. The Plantema Memorial Lecture is named after the late Dr. Ir. Frederik Johan Plantema, co-founder and first General Secretary of ICAF, who passed away in November 1966.

I note two things from the list of 26 Plantema Medal recipients:

  • I am the second ‘Swift’, the other being Tom Swift (1987); and
  • I am the third Australian, the others being John Mann (1983) and Graham Clark (2011).

My title was: ‘Last Diamond, An Appeal for Holistic Regulatory Leadership’. It was timely after the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. I drew on my diverse regulatory experience, civil and military, to give an insight into the qualities of good regulatory ‘craftsmanship’, and why this ‘craft’ is not only as important to structural integrity as good engineering, it is also every bit as interesting, challenging and satisfying. I spoke about the need for regulators to be holistic, to have good standards, and to be of good character.

My presentation is available on my ‘Tech‘ page.

Holism: next step in the evolution of structural airworthiness?

Many say we should manage our health ‘holistically’, that we should always look after our whole being and not just wait to treat individual diseases. Could ‘holism’ also be good for structural airworthiness?

In February 2019, as snow blanketed the USA, twenty aeronautical engineers were meeting (as they do every year) to discuss that very question. I was one. (Yes, that’s me presenting in the photo above.) On our minds was a recent fatal accident in the USA. Fatigue and corrosion had unexpectedly and dangerously interacted to break a blade off the propeller of a Lockheed KC-130T Hercules transport. It set off a chain of events that broke up the whole airframe in flight. The aircraft crashed in pieces, killing all on board.

Dr Hoeppner

For the meeting’s leader, Dr Hoeppner, Emeritus Professor at the University of Utah, it was another tragic reminder of why he first proposed his Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP): to manage structural risks from all foreseeable hazards, not just those the standards prescribe; to consider how hazards interact, not just in isolation; to understand the true nature of materials, not just their engineering ideals; to understand the physics of structural degradation, not just the test results; and to analyse structure more like a system, including reliability. Dr Hoeppner is internationally renowned for his pioneering work on the structural airworthiness of engines as well as aircraft.

Could HOLSIP be the next step in the evolution of structural airworthiness, after ‘safe life’, ‘fail-safe’ and ‘damage tolerance’? The last is still a sound concept, as Bob Eastin and I told ICAF in 2005 (see our paper, ‘Rough Diamond’, on my ‘Tech’ page), but HOLSIP could improve its application. HOLSIP is like a Safety Management System (SMS) for structure.

For a more complete description of HOLSIP, see this page on the HOLSIP website.

My presentation to this year’s Workshop was, ‘Holistic Standards for Holistic Projects, like ERSI’. ‘ERSI’ is short for ‘Engineered Residual Stress Implementation’, a project by which the USAF hopes to safely reap more benefit from intentional residual stresses such as introduced by ‘cold expanding’ fastener holes. An important project deliverable will be new regulatory guidance for MIL-STD-1530D and JSSG-2006. Dr Michael Gorelik, the US FAA’s Chief Scientific and Technical Adviser for Fatigue and Damage Tolerance, is also involved for civil aviation.

My presentation is available on my ‘Tech’ page. Also see my posts on previous HOLSIP Workshops.

I greatly respect Dr Hoeppner and others pursuing a more holistic approach to structural integrity, and hope to continue to attend the HOLSIP Workshops in the USA.

IFA Conference and Workshop, Dubai

The ‘IFA’ is the International Federation of Airworthiness, for which I am a Board member and Vice-President for Australasia. This year’s Conference brought together participants from the Middle East and around the world to discuss the theme, ‘Best Practices in Safety Risk Management’.

Some of the Conference organisers. Special thanks to Linda Hare, the IFA’s London-based Secretary who did the lion’s share.

John McColl, Head of Airworthiness for the UK CAA, led with his keynote speech on ‘Advancing Technology to Manage Risk’. I followed with ‘Innovative Maintenance to Manage Structural Risks Safely and Efficiently’, in which I argued that ‘innovative maintenance’ depends on knowing the basics of ‘damage tolerance analysis’. You can download my presentation from my ‘Tech’ page. Other presentations are available from the IFA’s web site.

The Conference scheduled time for networking, as important as the presentations

The second day was two interactive ‘Workshop’ sessions. I moderated the first on the topic, ‘New structural inspection technologies: how to assure safety without stifling innovation?’. I had invited a panel of regulatory and industry experts to discuss the approval of new inspection technologies for aircraft structure, especially camera-equipped robots and drones.

New Zealand company, Invert Robotics Ltd, showing the Workshop how their robot can crawl over an aircraft to inspect it more safely and quickly than any human.

The Workshop concluded that regulators could do more, in consultation with operators and the designers of new technologies, to clarify the approval pathway.

Cengiz Turkoglu led the second Workshop on ‘Identifying high risk areas in airworthiness’, which discussed how to improve our categorisation of occurrences, incidents and accidents, to help us better prioritise the risks and regulatory responses.

The Workshops concluded with a video Message from Dr. Bill Johnson, the FAA’s Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance Systems.

Also in Dubai was the Royal Aeronautical Society’s annual ‘Sir Maurice Flanagan Lecture’ on 26 November. John Vincent, the IFA’s CEO, spoke on ‘Safety Related Digital Records within Aviation’.

The IFA’s next Conference is planned for November 2019, in Hong Kong.

Would you like to join IFA? Please contact me. I would love to hear from you.


From 4th to 8th February 2018, I attended the 17th Annual Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP) at Snowbird Lodge, near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Briefly, HOLSIP says that when you analyse the strength and stiffness of any structure, not just for aircraft, you should consider:

  • all failure modes and their interaction
  • the physics and chemistry
  • the structure’s reliability as a system.

For more about HOLSIP, please see my previous HOLSIP posts or the HOLSIP website.

Attendees included:

  • Militaries: the US Air Force and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Researchers: Southwest Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada and universities from the USA and Japan
  • Companies: APES, Fatigue Technologies, Rolls Royce, TRI Austin and Caterpillar.
The USAF’s F16 ASIP Manager, Kim Jones, opens the Workshop. HOLSIP’s smallness is a strength. It promotes strong and constructive discussion.

In my presentation, which I called ‘HOLSIP: SMS for your ASIP’, I tried to acquaint the mainly military audience with a civil regulatory development that could encourage more holistic structural integrity analysis: Safety Management Systems (SMS). I was intentionally provocative, to stir discussion. You can download my presentation from ‘Tech‘. Other presentations are on the HOLSIP website.

After the Workshop, I was privileged to meet privately with HOLSIP’s founder, Dr Hoeppner, who was not well enough to attend the Workshop. He hopes to publish his first volume on structural integrity in the next year. It will be worth waiting for.

IFA Conference on training and Safety Management Systems

Some of the IFA leaders at the conference (left to right): Mr Frank Turner, President; Mr John Vincent, CEO; Me, VP-Australasia; and Mr Cengiz Turkoglu, Chairman of the Technical Committee

On 14th and 15th November I attended the annual conference of the International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA), for which I am the Vice-President for Australasia. The conference was kindly hosted by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department at their headquarters near the Hong Kong International Airport.

The conference included:

  • Board Meeting
  • Annual General Meeting
  • A Workshop on training for the next generation of aviation professionals
  • A Forum on how Safety Management Systems (SMS) can make a real difference.
Cengiz Turkoglu leads a lively discussion during the Forum

The Workshop and Forum included enthusiastic participants from airlines, maintenance organisations, regulators, and universities and other training organisations. They came mainly from Asia and Europe.

I came away encouraged as well as informed. In the Workshop I was encouraged by the calibre and commitment of the universities and other training organisations. In the Forum I was encouraged by the honest presentations and discussions on SMS, which would also have pleased SMS expert Rob Collins. Like the title of his book, they were ‘Safety Management Without the Mumbo Jumbo’. IFA’s CEO, John Vincent, openly admitted the simplicity of SMS concepts — refreshing when the SMS ‘industry’ has a vested interest in complexity and mystery.

The title of my presentation was: ‘Seven Deadly Hazards: Does Your SMS Address Them?’. The hazards, mainly for structural maintenance, have tripped up others. See ‘Tech‘.

The annual conference is only one of the benefits of IFA membership. If you are passionate about airworthiness, why not join IFA? You can join on the IFA’s web site.

NANDTB Seminar on Aircraft Inspection and Maintenance

NDT and maintenance experts from around Australia met for two days of presentations, discussions and exhibitions on the theme of ‘Higher Standards, Better Compliance’. Mr Jeff Boyd, Chairman of the CASA Board, gave the Keynote Address.

I gave two presentations. The first was my own, on the ‘Fundamentals of Aircraft Fatigue‘. The second was a Textron presentation on ‘Cessna SIDs’.

You can find a PDF of my presentation in the list under ‘Tech‘.

ICAF 2017

In June I attended ICAF 2017, organised by the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue and Structural Integrity, in Nagoya, Japan. For more on ICAF and my active participation since 1995, please see my earlier post for ICAF 2015.

While there, to my surprise (and honour), ICAF’s General Secretary, Prof. Anders Blom, invited me to present the Plantema Memorial Lecture (the ‘keynote’) at the next ICAF Symposium, which will be held in June 2019 in Krakow, Poland.

Aviation Law Conference 2017

I attended this conference to help me keep in touch with the aviation lawyers who retain me as an expert witness.  Although I always leave the legal issues to the lawyers, as I should, because it is important I don’t interfere in matters outside my expertise, I feel it is also important to understand my main audience for when I write my expert reports and give evidence in court.

Please see my earlier post on the ‘Aviation Law Conference 2016’.