The Rapid In-Place Composite Rotor Damage Detection (RIPCoRDD) system directly addresses elements of the NASA technology development roadmap (topic 15.5). While the proposed technology is broadly applicable to a range of applications within NASA projects, there are some for which the proposed work is especially relevant. One specific program which has called for rotor health maintenance is the Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT) Project. In addition, the advanced composites project is actively seeking new technologies which can help in the rapid inspection and characterization of composite material health. Likewise, as space programs move more towards the use of composite materials, monitoring those structures for health becomes increasingly critical.
Rotorcraft play a key role in numerous areas of modern life, from life-saving medical transports, to enabling access to remote locations, to military use. The performance capabilities of composites (strength to weight, non-catastrophic failure) have driven their use in the weight sensitive designs of rotorcraft. Due to the complex structure of composite materials there is a potential for hidden damage internal to the blade which shortens lifetime while being difficult to detect. By enabling true condition based monitoring of these rotors, the useful lifetime of rotor blades can be extended, lowering total cost of ownership. In addition, this technology can be expanded into a host of non-aeronautical applications, such as wind turbine health monitoring.