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VINTAGE B-17 TAIL WHEEL UNDER HIGH-TECH SCRUTINY OF BOEING INDUSTRIAL COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY SYSTEM

 VINTAGE B-17 TAIL WHEEL UNDER HIGH-TECH SCRUTINY
 OF BOEING INDUSTRIAL COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY SYSTEM
 SEATTLE, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Boeing Defense & Space Group:
 What a difference a half-century makes.
 Designers of the fabled B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, bent over drafting tables and armed with slide rules, might be shocked, but pleased to discover today that a piece of their airplane has been scanned by an industrial version of a medical computed tomography (CT) system.
 Today, a Boeing 307 Stratoliner passenger aircraft, built in 1940, is being refurbished by Boeing Commercial Airplane Group under contract to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In the process of inspecting the airplane, engineers noticed cracks on its tail wheel structure.
 That's when Boeing Defense & Space Group's Computed Tomography Applications Demonstration (CTAD) program staff in the Physics organization was asked to analyze the part -- an interchangeable tail wheel that originally had been designed as part of the B-17 bomber.
 Traditional analysis of industrial parts has involved testing through X-radiography, or X-ray, and destructive evaluation.
 Conventional X-radiography allows for visualization of some internal details. On complex shapes, this interpretation of defects, in terms of size and specific location, have been difficult, if not impossible to quantify. Cutting open a part to see what's inside renders it useless.
 In the case of the tail wheel, it was one of only four in existence and was without detailed design blueprints.
 CT technology, as the aerospace industry is discovering, possesses the capability to peer beyond the scope of an engineer's steely eyes, and do it with visualization superior to conventional X-rays. This precise, nondestructive investigation is possible without damaging the part.
 Traditional CT technology has proven adept at discovering tumors and human physiological anomalies in hospitals across the world. Lives have been saved by this technological tool, which can peer into the body, through the brain and other vital organs. It can analyze the depth of disease that can otherwise only be disclosed by a surgeon's scalpel, but without endangering what the surgeon is attempting to save.
 Aerospace engineers and scientists at Boeing and elsewhere also are discovering that CT technology is a versatile tool. Like slices from an apple, computer reconstruction of the tail gear, segment by segment, offers evidence of the part's structural integrity or any otherwise imperceptible flaws.
 "This part hadn't been flown since the B-17 it was attached to landed for the last time decades ago," said Gary Georgeson, composites and materials engineer for the CTAD program.
 "The people doing the refurbishment wanted to know if the part could be used, if it needed repair, and if it did, could it be fixed. We were able to collect that data and give them the answers."
 Engineers discovered that, while the tail wheel did have some surface cracks, it didn't affect the structure's integrity or strength.
 Industrial CT scanning also provides a "very accurate, three- dimensional sketch" of a part which can be converted into a computer- aided design workstation model, according to Dick Bossi, CTAD program manager. For parts like the tail wheel with no blueprint records, that's an added payoff.
 Bossi says unusual jobs like this one come along only "occasionally." But with the value of this technology beginning to be realized throughout Boeing, Bossi expects his group's investigations into the inner workings of industrial parts to become routine.
 "We're demonstrating the technology on an increasing number of parts -- aluminum castings, composites and mechanical systems," he added.
 He says the CT achievements they've made can be described as "evolutionary, not revolutionary." But Bossi characterized Boeing as being a leader in this technology demonstration.
 Boeing Defense & Space Group, where the CT work is being accomplished, has headquarters at the Boeing Space Center in Kent, Wash.
 -0- 3/9/92 R
 NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos of the industrial computed tomography system are available upon request.
 /CONTACT: Bob Smith of Boeing Defense & Space Group, 206-773-2816/
 (BA) CO: Boeing Defense & Space Group ST: Washington IN: ARO AIR SU:


JH-LM -- SE010 -- 6659 03/09/92 20:29 EST
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Date:Mar 9, 1992
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