PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- The Naval Air Systems Command announced Aug. 27 that it has developed a device that is doing for aircraft inspections what colonoscopies have done for cancer detection.
Used to inspect interior engine components and airframes for cracks, corrosion and other debris that can harm Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, the Common Video Borescope Set, or CVBS, is scheduled for "initial operating capability" in September when units will be delivered to Sailors and Marines.
"Compressor blades rotating in an aircraft engine power naval aviation on a daily basis, but anything accidentally entering the engine intake can create nicks and chip the blades," said Lt. Cmdr. Francini Clemmons, assistant deputy program manager for nondestructive inspection equipment, who oversees the CVBS project for the Aviation Support Equipment Program Office (PMA-260). "Instead of taking the engine apart, the video borescope allows inspectors to look into the jet engine, saving time and energy."
The borescope will not only bring commonality to the fleet and revolutionize the way the Department of the Navy inspects aircraft and engines but it will also provide real-time digital images and video for examination, Clemmons added. "The CVBS can be likened to a colon screening, but ours is kinder and gentler to the aircraft," he said. "It will instantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our inspection procedures."
The CVBS is a naval modified version of a commercial-off-the-shelf product and will support all aircraft platforms requiring video borescope inspections of their airframes and engines. It offers many advantages over its varied predecessors, PMA-260 officials said.
While previous borescopes in the naval inventory detected engine debris with a rigid
probe and generated low-quality, black-and-white pictures, the CVBS has a 2-meter long, flexible, insertion tube that captures photos and video images on a 3.7-inch color screen. Technicians will use a joystick to maneuver the device's insertion tube, giving them a 360-degree view of hard-to-see places.
All CVBS handsets are capable of defect measurement and offer two hours of battery operation. The CVBS Type V variant comes with a working channel and tools that can retrieve debris.
At 3.74 pounds, the CVBS is also less expensive and lighter than its 30-pound predecessors. Many of the 27 varieties of legacy borescope systems could cost as much as $30,000 per unit, Clemmons said. The Navy plans to buy 960 CVBS units at an approximate cost of $15,000 each.
Marc Donohue, nondestructive inspection Common Support Equipment integrated program team lead for PMA-260, said he has received positive feedback from both fleet and fleet support team personnel who have used the CVBS during the test and evaluation phase.
"The unit is ruggedized, highly portable and over 80 percent lighter than many of the legacy units it replaces," Donohue said. "The CVBS improves equipment survivability and reliability while providing enhanced capability. The program achieves cost-wise readiness at less than 50 percent of the CVBS program's cost objective and at only 31 percent of the cost of sustaining legacy system requirements."
The Aviation Support Equipment Program Office manages the procurement, development and fielding of common ground support equipment and automatic test equipment, which support every type, model and series of aircraft within the Naval Aviation Enterprise.