Leak Detection for Aerospace Applications

Leak detection in the context of aerospace includes a wide range of applications, e.g. components for space travel or turbines and related fuel lines for airplanes. Consequently, the leak detection requirements can vary strongly and the related process can be very complex.

Application requirements

  • High sensitivity
  • High reproducibility
  • Easy to use

Depending on the product size and specified leak rate, leak detection systems are required for testing products for very low leak rates to withstand the conditions in outer space. These systems can be either manual, semi- or fully automated to ensure the products meet specifications to guarantee their functionality over the lifetime or to fulfill regulatory obligations.

Pfeiffer Vacuum can supply all components necessary to set-up a complete leak detection system based on air or the tracer gases helium or hydrogen.

On the other hand, final assembly validation is compulsory within the aerospace industry to avoid a failure during operation at all costs. Exemplary, for rocket engines or satellites to only test the components is not sufficient as it has to be ensured that the final assembly is free of errors. For these tests often quantitative and qualitative methods are used utilizing standalone leak detection solutions.

When reaching a certain size, the leak detection utilizing a vacuum chamber is not commercially viable anymore, i.e. an airplane body or wing. Further, only the welding lines or feedthroughs have to be tested. This can be achieved with either tracer gas spraying or sniffing method. In case an integral leak test is needed an accumulation test utilizing the sniffer probe is also a common industrial procedure.

Product portfolio
Pfeiffer Vacuum offers a holistic portfolio to solve leak detection requirements for aerospace applications. The rotary vane pumps of DuoLine series, the universal Roots pumps HiLobe or OktaLine for high flexibility and the HiPace turbopumps allow to reach very low pressures easily. For components and sub-assemblies leak testing utilizing tracer gas leak detection systems, the helium and hydrogen integrable leak detector ASI 35 is optimum.

To identify the leakages on final assemblies, the lightweight and mobile leak detector ASM 310, the compact sniffer leak detector ASM 306 S or the high performances ASM 390 or ASM 392 when it comes to large volumes, are the optimal solutions. The large range of accessories of tracer gas leak detectors make them either operator friendly and easy to use in case of manual operation, either highly compatible with robotic applications.

Sometimes tracer gas leak detection is not applicable, due to complexity of assemblies or inaccessibility to access areas to test. In such cases the MicroFlow technology EPDQ enables air leak testing with short cycle times, high sensitivity and reproducibility, and limited impact of temperature on measurement result.

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