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Book 8

Module 7A


Licence By Post

For best examination results always use latest issue number.

Licence By Post


B1 EASA 66 7A.14.2 7A.18(b) ISSUE 07 0412

Licence By Post
No part of this study book may be re-produced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system in whole or in part without prior written permission from Licence By Post. Books in the LBP series are regularly up-dated/re-written to keep pace with the changing technology, changing examination requirements and changing legal requirements.

AUTHORITY It is IMPORTANT to note that the information in this book is for study/training purposes only. When carrying out a procedure/work on aircraft/aircraft equipment you MUST always refer to the relevant aircraft maintenance manual or equipment manufacturers handbook. You should also follow the requirements of your national regulatory authority (the CAA in the UK) and laid down company policy as regards local procedures, recording, report writing, documentation etc. For health and safety in the workplace you should follow the regulations/guidelines as specified by the equipment manufacturer, your company, national safety authorities and national governments.

CONTENTS Page Repairs to aircraft structure Principles of repair Structure classification Sources of repair information Damage classification Classification of repair Repair report Examination of damage Damage repairable by patching Damage repairable by insertion Damage repairable by replacement Repair practices Metal repair procedure general Composite structures Inspection of composite structures Visual inspection Coin tapping Moisture meter Infra-red thermography Ultra-sonic testing Radiography X-rays Gamma rays Composite repairs Preparation and mixing of resins Pot life Curing Film adhesives General repair considerations Carbon fibre composites Materials Damage Repair Equipment Repair methods General repair procedure Repair to sandwich structure Delamination Debonding Metal patching Void filler honeycomb section Electrical bonding Ageing, fatigue and corrosion control programmes Geriatric aircraft 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 5 6 7 7 11 12 14 15 15 15 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 23 24 25 26 26 27 27 27 28 28 30 30 30 32 34 35 36

HOW TO TACKLE THIS BOOK Written for the B1 mechanical engineer the book covers 7.14.2 and 7.18(b) of the EASA Part 66 syllabus. You should have a reasonable knowledge of repair techniques, corrosion control programmes and maintenance programmes for aircraft ageing. For more information on anti-corrosive processes, and materials (including composites) you should refer to the books on those subjects in our book series in module 6. For more information on the following subjects refer to the following books in this module: * * * Tools Riveting and sheet metal NDT and corrosion control book 2 book 7 book 13

Structures as a subject is covered in module 11 (fixed wing aircraft) and 12 (helicopters). Notes: 1. In general the BI licensed engineer is only allowed to repair non primary aircraft structure. Operators will normally employ qualified personnel to carry out composite repairs (these having attended, and passed, composite repair courses). The CAA have asked a multi choice question about the largest diameter of hole in a composite sandwich structure that can be filled with micro-balloons. We have found that this can vary between manufacturers (we have stated some of the limits in the text) and should you get this question on your examination we recommend that you inform the invigilator.



REPAIRS TO AIRCRAFT STRUCTURES An aircraft is a complex structure of many parts, each part designed to be light in weight and to carry a certain load (good strength/weight ratio). Any repairs must be carried out in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer of the aircraft (Structure Repair Manual - SRM). The SRM is approved by the CAA but repairs may also be carried out to drawings/schemes provided by the CAA or approved design offices.

Principles of Repair To restore damaged structures to their original strength and shape, the repair scheme prepared by the design staff, ensures that a margin of strength is built into the repair. This reserve factor is usually 1.2 but can vary from this figure. Reserve Factor = Strength of Member Estimated Maximum Load

Structure Classification Owing to the difficulty of formulating repair instructions for members or parts of similar size but designed to take different loads, the airframe structure can be divided into three general classifications: Primary Structure. Those parts of the airframe that are highly stressed and, if damaged, may cause catastrophic failure and loss of life eg, wing spars, engine mountings etc. Secondary Structure. Parts of the airframe that are highly stressed but if damaged have provision for alternative load paths. Ancillary frames designed to support components, some skin panels, etc, are examples. It is difficult to give a precise example for this type of structure as a frame on one aircraft might be classed as primary whilst on another it could be classed as secondary structure. Tertiary Structure. Lightly stressed parts such as fairings, wheel shields and minor component brackets. Failure of which would not be serious.

Sources of Repair Information British Civil Airworthiness Requirements (BCARs), JAR and EASA requirements state that all repairs must be carried out in accordance with the approved repair manual or approved repair drawings.


Manufacturers therefore provide a repair manual (Standard Repair Manual SRM) for each aircraft type. This publication provides the information to carry out most of the repairs encountered in normal service. It would be impossible to cover all damage likely to affect an aircraft so where damage occurs which is not listed in the SRM, a repair drawing and repair method must be obtained. This is issued by an approved drawing office (usually the aircraft manufacturer) after all details (photographs, drawings, written descriptions etc) have been sent regarding the extent of the damage.

Damage Classification Damage can be classified according to how it occurred: Primary Damage. Damage which occurs at the point of impact or failure, eg, the actual damage caused by a bird strike at the point of impact. Secondary Damage. The damage which occurs as a result of the primary damage, remote from the actual impact area, often due to failure as a result of overloading, brought about by primary failure - transmitted shock etc. In the case of a heavy landing the primary damage could be damage to the main undercarriage attachment points and the secondary damage could be transmitted shock to some other remote part of the wing or tailplane for example.

Classification of Repair When the damaged area has been fully inspected and cleaned up it can be assessed. This assessment will fall into one of four categories depending on the classification of the structure where the damage has occurred. 1. Negligible damage. Damage which does not affect the airworthiness of the airframe but will normally need some attention like stop drilling the end of a crack, carrying out anticorrosive treatments, cleaning the damaged area etc. Damage repairable by patching. A patch repair is riveted/ bolted/bonded onto the damaged area after the damage has been cut to a regular shape. Damage repairable by insertion. The damage is removed and the structure cut to a regular shape and an insert repair is riveted/bolted/bonded into position. Damage repairable by replacement. The whole section of structure is removed and a new section fitted.




The limits for the above are all laid down in the SRM, but in general the damage is getting more severe from item 1 to item 4.


Repair Report If the damage will require extensive repair then a report should be made out prior to commencement of the work. Whether a report is necessary or not will depend on the company operating procedures. Even if the repair is fairly straight forward then some pre-planning is required.

QUESTION What sort of pre-planning might be required? (2 mins). ANSWER It would be a good idea to check on the availability of spares, (rivets, bonding agents etc) labour, heat treatment facilities, hangerage etc and also to draw a plan of the actual repair to be carried out. This could save a lot of trouble later on.

A formal report must detail all the repair work and the procedures involved and quote the reference numbers, and any other relevant details, of the approved repair schemes. The report should also list any maintenance work which could usefully be carried out during the repair work since this may obviate the need for further dismantling later on and the aircraft being taken out of service. Stage inspections, giving details of the inspection required, must be listed on an Inspection Record Sheet in a sequence related to the Repair Report.

Examination of Damage Access to the damaged area might require the removal of items of equipment/ systems or parts of systems. In that case proper records must be kept and after completion of repairs the systems/equipment must be put back to a serviceable condition and any functional tests carried out. Refer to the AMM and SRM. Visually examine for extent of primary damage. Check carefully for the extent of any secondary damage. Assess damage area and inspect for: (a) Cracks. May be considered negligible in a tertiary structure, which only requires stop drilling at the end of the crack to stop it spreading and regular inspections thereafter. It may necessitate repair by patching, insertion or renewal of the part if present in primary structures. Nicks. Nicks in free edges may be classed as negligible and dressed out by blending to a smooth gradual change of section and an anti-corrosive treatment applied to any filed edges. The depth and spacing of such damage would be dependent on the structural class of the component and the SRM. -3-



Loose Rivets. Carefully remove, and inspect damage to rivet hole. Enlarge the hole to the next size up - if allowed in the SRM. Replace with next size rivet of correct type. If the hole size gets too big a bolt may have to be fitted or a repair may be necessary. Bowing Limits. Minimum limits are usually 1 in 600 but actual limits may vary. Checked in a variety of ways using: (i) (ii) (iii) A straight edge and feelers. The sighting method. Not very accurate but gives an instant indication of any bow. A three point trammel with a surface table and feelers.


The amount of bow can be calculated by: Bow = Clearance measured by feeler gauges Length of member Length of member is 2ft and the clearance measured is 0.040 inches. 0.040 24.0 = 4 2400 = 1 600 or 1 in 600


Bow =


Skin Panting. Due to fluctuating loads (usually compressive), stressed skin may develop panting. This shows up as slight undulations of the aircraft skin where unsupported between frames, stringers etc. The total deflection will determine whether this is classed as negligible or the panel needs repair or replacement. Scores and Abrasions. Limits in terms of area and depth will be specified and it may be permitted to polish out the abrasion and restore the anticorrosive treatment. In the case of clad alloys care must be taken not to remove the cladding. When the blending out of a score or abrasion in a stressed part is permitted, it is often necessary to use a suitable NDT method to ensure that any minute crack has not been overlooked (as its presence would not be considered negligible).


QUESTION How would you check an abrasion for area and depth? (3 mins).



For the area a rule could be used - but if you wanted to be pedantic you could use a planometer (a special wheeled pantograph type instrument that measures irregular areas). For depth a DTI (Dial Test Indicator) with a needle point plunger could be used.


Dents. Small smooth dents, free from cracks and abrasions may be classed as negligible. They are assessed by depth and maximum diameter. Dents over the limits should be classed as holes and repaired accordingly. The spacing allowed between dents will also be specified, as will the minimum dimensions between damage and rivet rows or joints. A DTI can be used to measure depth and if the dent is on a tubed item then a suitable ball bearing and a micrometer can be used. Note the ball bearing must be of a size that fits into the bottom of the dent.


Holes. Before assessment, any holes, or damage classified as holes (dents etc) should be cleaned to a regular shape ensuring all damage is removed. Small holes can be drilled and larger holes filed to a regular shape and edges should be given a smooth finish. The SRM will give the negligible dimension, according to structural classification, stating the maximum diameter and minimum spacing between damage and other parts/damage.

Damage Repairable by Patching Before commencing repairs consult the SRM. The repair instructions for small cracks, punctures and deep scores usually stipulate the following: * The repair patch must be of the same gauge and material as the existing metal sheet. Rivets used to secure the patch should be the same pitch, type and size and material as those used in the nearest edge of the material. The distance of the rivet centre from the edge of the patch must be at least twice the diameter of the rivet (land). All overlapping (faying) surfaces should be coated with jointing compound, and the repair assembly riveted while the jointing compound is wet (wet assembly). Renew paint treatments.



The patch repair may look similar to an insertion repair in that there might be a filler plate riveted in position to produce a smooth contour. How-ever, the load paths on a patch repair will pass through the patch and on an insert repair will pass through the insert (figures 1, 2 and 3).

Damage Repairable by Insertion In very general terms an insert repair is similar to a patch repair (if it has a filler plate) but the insert is riveted into position so that all the load paths pass from the aircraft structure through the butt strap, into the insert, through the butt strap and back into the aircraft structure. Rivets securing the filler plate to the patch merely hold it in position, and need not be as strong or as numerous as the rivets securing the patch to the butt strap.


The insertion repair is used where the damage is large and the lost strength of the sheet must be restored. With this type of repair an insert and butt strap are used, and as both parts transfer the load all the rivets must be of similar size and pitch.


In practice the butt strap may consist of a patch with the centre removed. With a large patch repair, this type of patch ensures a reduction in weight, without loss in strength of the repair.


Damage Repairable by Replacement Usually applies to most components. If they are unserviceable or damaged in any way they are replaced. For structural parts if they are damaged beyond repair they are replaced. This can apply to skin panels, bulkheads, frames, stringers, engine pylons and even main spars. For some of this work the aircraft will need supporting and/or jury rigging and may need to be fitted into special jigs and fixtures. If this is the case then repair will need to be carried out in an overhaul facility. If repair is not possible (not economical) then the airframe will have to be scrapped. All components that are in good condition and/or with plenty of flying hours left are removed and used as spares or put into storage. The CAA is informed of the scrapping of the airframe, it is made safe and the local scrap merchant is asked to tender a price for the removal of the airframe. Records are kept of components removed (airframe, engines, VP props etc). The records cross refer to the appropriate log books and details include part description; part numbers; serial numbers; hours flown; cycles; landings; calendar life etc as appropriate and aircraft removed from.

Repair Practices (a) Removal of Damage. In most instances it will be necessary to cut away the damaged material and dress back the surrounding structure. Although it should be ensured that no more material than is necessary is removed, it is necessary to make sure that the adjacent structure to which the repair is to be attached is in a sound condition.


When removing riveted structures, care must be taken not to damage those rivet holes which are to be used again since circular, smooth edged correct size holes are essential for subsequent riveting and if the risk of failure by fatigue is to be kept to a minimum. The damage is classified as repairable or not after the above process has been carried out. (b) Stop Drilling. (Refer figures 4 and 11). Used where a crack is found in the structure to prevent it propagating (spreading). The procedure is only allowed where specified in the SRM and usually not allowed in primary structures, in pressurised hulls etc. To stop-drill a crack: 1. 2. Check the SRM for damage classification, maximum crack length and diameter of stop-drill holes (drill diameter). Ascertain length of crack (the exact position of the ends). This may not be easy and will involve the removal of any paint, thorough cleaning of the area and possibly NDT inspection methods such as the use of dye penetrants. Select the correct drill size and drill through the structure (checking that there is clearance behind the structure from and systems, components etc). Ensure that the drilled hole has drilled out the end of the crack. Re-instate any anti-corrosive treatments removed. Clean the area of any swarf/debris. Record the work done in the aircraft log book and sign. Record also that the repair must be inspected on a regular basis to check if propagation has been arrested.


4. 5. 6.


The principle behind stop-drilling is that it increases the area at the end of the crack and hence reduces the stress. Stress is force per unit area and while the force in the structure (tensile, sheer etc) is the same for an un-drilled crack as for a drilled one the areas are not. The area at the end of the crack is very small and therefore the stresses are very high. When the end of the crack is rounded out into a hole the area is significantly larger and the stress is reduced.



Support of Structure. The support of structure during repair is essential, especially before any part of the structure is removed, to prevent distortion or collapse. The process of supporting during repair or renewal of parts is known as Jury Rigging. Jury rigging may take the form of special jigs and fixtures supplied by the manufacturer. In many cases the rigging may be made up from local stock wooden beams, screw clamps, bolts etc. When removing large parts of the structure it is important that the rest of the structure is held in place and that no relative movement occurs. Figure 5 shows an example of jury rigging. It is used on the fuselage of the aircraft after removal of the mainplanes (during major overhaul). In general terms with the aircraft jacked and trestled and, after removal of the engines (from the wings) and all the fairings, the system connections to the mainplanes are disconnected and the mainplanes detached by removing eight main attachment bolts. The wing centre section is then removed complete. To prevent possible fuselage distortion and damage two steel jury struts are bolted to the existing main fuselage attachment points on the right and left hand side of the fuselage.



Selection of Rivets. Although repairs must always be approved for the particular aircraft, sometimes local decisions must be made in respect of details to ensure that the strength of the repair will not be less than its original strength, any such repair must be CAA approved. The size, spacing and type of rivet to be used is normally specified in the SRM but in general should be the same specification and size as the existing rivets.


If there are no existing rivets and in the absence of any repair data, in general, the rivet size is 3 times the individual sheet thickness that is to be joined. If, after drilling out any existing rivets, oversize* rivets must be used then authority must be obtained from the Quality Control department/ the CAA, unless this has been allowed for the original repair specification. Always confirm the specification of the rivets by the packet identification and only heat treat if specified by the rivet manufacture. Remember if the rivets are heat treatable they can only be solution heat treated. They may be kept in cold store after heat treatment for a period depending on the freezer temperature and the aircraft must not fly until the rivets have age hardened up to 4 days. * Oversize rivets. These are commonly used when the removal of the existing rivets has lead to enlarged rivet holes (the forming of the original rivet will enlarge the rivet hole very slightly). The existing holes are redrilled with the correct size drill to allow the oversize rivet to be a clearance fit. (e) Rivet Spacing. The Sphere of Influence (S of I) is the area in which the closed rivet maintains the two plates in close contact and this dictates how far the rivets are spaced apart (together with the stress levels the joint has to take). S of I is about 5 times the rivet diameter (5D) and can vary depending on type of head. Countersinking. There are two methods used to allow for a countersunk head to ensure a flush fit: drill countersinking and dimpling. The first method should only be used on sheet metal of 18 SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) or thicker since there is a danger of enlarging the hole and weakening the joint on thinner material. For drill countersinking a counter-sinking tool with the correct cutting angle is used. If this is not available then a large twist drill can be used with its cutting angle ground to the correct angle to suit the angle of the countersunk head. (g) Dimpling. Is a method of obtaining flush riveting with thin sheets using special tools. This is a process for indenting the sheet material around a drilled hole so that the countersunk head of the rivet sits flush with the surface of the metal. A pilot hole is drilled first then the metal is dimpled then the rivet hole is drilled to the final correct diameter.


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Jointing Compound. After the metal sheets have been drilled or dimpled ready for riveting, they should be separated to remove swarf and burrs and also to allow the specified sealant or chromate film to be applied. Jointing compound is normally used to prevent galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals. Most manufacturers have a policy of wet assembly.


Sealants. Used to seal pressure cabins against air lose and rain water ingress. Also used on floats and hulls of seaplanes/floatplanes to seal against ingress of water. Also used in the sealing of integral fuel tanks. It is important that the particular sealant specified for the particular job only is used. Before any sealant is applied, it is important to ensure that the surfaces to which it is to be applied are clean and free from swarf and burrs. Sealants are applied from the inside of the structure.

Metal Repair Procedure - General Plan the repair before hand and proceed as follows: (a) (b) (c) If necessary move aircraft into hangar. Consult the AMM if access has to be gained by the removal of equipment/components. Consult the SRM to find the class of structure involved. (Irrespective of this classification the repair will be carried out to the highest standard as per the SRM.) Examine the primary damage and inspect the internal structure for signs of secondary damage. Fit jury rigging and jack and trestle the aircraft as necessary. Carefully clean up all damage in order to classify it correctly eg, negligible, repairable, replacement. Determine from the repair manual whether the damage is negligible or within the repairable limits. Consult the repair diagrams and plan the repair. The plan to include an overall plan of action and detailed plans for the repair itself (sizes, pitches, spacing etc all based on dimensions given in the SRM). The material specification, gauge, and part numbers of materials required will be given in the SRM. Use a pencil for all marking out - except cutting lines. Remember that Al alloys are notch sensitive and will soon develop a crack along a scribed line. Determine the type and length of rivets required.

(d) (e) (f) (g) (h)

(i) (j)


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(l) (m) (n) (o) (p) (q) (r) (s) (t) (u) (v) (w) (x) (y) (z)

Mark and drill one plate and use it as a template for the other. Check the work against the repair instructions at each stage of the repair. The work should be inspected at suitable intervals. Check the alignment of the structure occasionally, if necessary. Any corrosion must be treated and protective films made good. Use jointing compounds. With repairs to pressurised areas use the recommended sealants at mating surfaces and around rivets and joints. Repeat (q) above for integral fuel tank repairs. Pressure test the cabin (if repair to the hull) as stated in the aircraft maintenance manual. After sealing integral fuel tank carry out pressure test and flow check. Restore protective treatments. For large repairs carry out airframe rigging check. Re-configure any systems disturbed for access and test. Make sure all work sheets are signed up. Complete Tech Log entry and sign CRS. Check on what caused the damage in the first place and if the incidence was avoidable. If it was then write a report as to how it occurred making the necessary recommendations.

COMPOSITE STRUCTURES Defects/damage to composite structures include: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Cracks. Bulges. Splitting particularly inside the panel. Delamination. Debonding. Moisture/water ingress. Fibre failure. Dents. Scratches. Punctures. Fastener damage. UV (ultra violet) degradation. Erosion. Lightning strike damage. Fire damage. Signs of bowing and signs of damage to systems/equipment inside the panel.

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Cracks. These can pass right through the laminate. Where they occur they are likely to run inline with the weft or warp plies of the material. The likelihood of a crack occurring is considerably reduced by constructing composites of a weft/warp material or laying consecutive weft-less plies at right angles to each other. Typically caused by impact damage or high local loads. Matrix cracking is not visible on the surface and may be caused by thermal stresses or moisture ingress. Bulges. These may be a sign of delamination or debonding and may be accompanied by water ingress. Splitting. This is usually a sign of impact damage. Delamination. This is the failure of the bond joint between two composite parts or between a composite part and a metal part. Maybe the result of impact damage, stress concentration, or more likely, poor quality of the initial bonding process. Debonding. This is similar to delamination. Moisture Ingress. This can result from impact damage or from a poorly made joint. The term moisture can include water, fuels, blue water etc. Once in the structure, the moisture can degrade the bond between the laminates/core and can increase the damage area particularly if subject to freezing conditions. Can show up as stains on the surface. Fibre failure. Not common and not serious with secondary/tertiary structures but more serious with major load bearing members. Due to poor quality control at manufacture. Dents. Usually caused by an impact event and may also be an indication of underlying damage such as fibre damage, debonding, moisture ingress, matrix cracking etc. Scratches and gouges. May be caused by poor ground handling of the aircraft and may hide similar defects as Dents above. Punctures. This are holes in the visible composite which may hide further damage moisture ingress, delamination, fibre failure, matrix damage etc. Usually the result of an impact. Fastener damage. Damage around fasteners due to poor panel handling or incorrect fastener location/placement. May hide further damage within the panel.

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UV radiation. This will degrade some composite fibres more than others, but at any rate UV absorbing additives should be used on all outer surfaces of composite build-ups. Erosion. Erosion will occur on all leading edge surfaces (mainplanes, tailplanes, fins, propellers, rotor-blades etc) irrespective of the material they are made of. It is caused by small particles in the air such as rain, dust, insects, etc. Can lead to moisture ingress. Lightning strikes. This will show up as surface damage to the material, not too unlike impact damage, usually with signs of burning. Check any lightning conductor strips for security and damage. Carry out an electrical bonding check of the airframe and check all electrical/electronic equipment/systems for correct functioning. Electrical discharge damage to radomes may be difficult to detect. One method is to pressurise the radome (off the aircraft and in a safety cage) to about 3psi (20kPa) and check for leaks using uncured resin on the outside which will bubble if there is a leak. Heat damage. Resins will not usually withstand high temperatures and when burning will give off inflammable gases and thick smoke. When burned-off will leave the fibre yarns behind. Caused by structure being near to heat sources such as engine exhausts, air conditioning ducts etc. Collateral damage. Composite panels may spring back to shape after an impact but if the panel hits equipment/systems/other structure inside the airframe then they may sustain damage and act as a tell-tale to the original cause of the damage.

INSPECTION OF COMPOSITE STRUCTURES With any of the above defects they will have to be found, classified and repaired as per the SRM. First, they have to be found and that might not be easy. To some extent composites can be more difficult to inspect for flaws than metal structures. When subject to impact damage they can spring-back and show little or no sign of impact. Certain NDT techniques will not work with composites, eddy current, magnetic particle etc, and whilst X-ray interpretation of negatives on metals can be difficult the results of composite X-rays can be more so.

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Visual Inspection The area should be inspected in a good light for those defects listed above. The structure should be inspected both sides as splitting may occur on the inside of a panel where the only evidence of damage on the outside is a scuffmark. Additionally if damage is suspected the edges of the panel/area should be inspected for signs of transmitted shock. The transmitted shock may show up as damage to an adjacent panel/area or to damage and looseness of attaching bolts, screws etc. It is important to note that if the panel/area has suffered impact damage it could have moved in sufficient to damage systems/services within the aircraft, so check these as well.

Coin Tapping Where delamination is suspected a small metal object can be used to tap the area and check for a change in the sound when tapping good structure compared to when tapping un-sound structure. A coin about 1 (25mm) in diameter is ideal. Tap lightly at the side of the area where delamination is suspected and continue tapping while moving across the area. Any delamination will be indicated by a change in the sound. A tool called a Woodpecker can be used. This electronic tapping device has a small tapping head than can be moved over the area and the sounds listened to as before. Two small feet allow the tool to be rested against the surface to be tested giving the tapping head the correct distance from the surface for best results. The tool can be connected to a screen where the feedback signal can be displayed.

Moisture Meter A moisture meter may be used for checking for signs of moisture ingress. The pencil size probe is held against the suspected surface and moisture is indicated either on a dial or an LED display.

Infra-Red Thermography This has been developed by Airbus Industries for detecting water ingress in composite-sandwich structures. Infra-red thermography is based on the principle that an object emits electromagnetic radiation, the intensity of which is related to its temperature.

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When a structure is heated and allowed to cool, water contaminated areas cool more slowly than dry areas and these area can be detected using an infra-red camera. (The specific heat of water is 5 times higher than composite materials). The infra-red camera converts the thermal radiation into an electronic signal, which is displayed in colour on a video screen.

Method 1. 2. Clean and dry the area to be inspected (both sides). Heat the area using a special electric blanket. The electric blanket is temperature and time controlled so that it heats up slowly, taking at least 15 minutes to reach 60C. The temperature is held at this value for a further 5 minutes.





The blanket is removed and the airframe allowed to cool. As it cools the slower cooling wet areas show up on an infra-red scanning camera. One engineer operates the scanning camera while another views the output on a video monitor. Wet/damp areas are indicated in colour as shown in figure 6. When a wet area is shown the viewing operator tells the camera operator. The camera is held still and the area on the panel is marked for further investigation/repair.

Note. A typical system is the Agema Infra-red Systems Thermovision 210 which will detect a difference of 0.1C at 30C to an area down to about 10mm x 10mm contaminated with 10% water and located on the opposite side of the skin.

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Ultra-Sonic Testing Used mainly for detecting below-surface voids but also for surface flaws at a point some distance from the place of accessibility. High frequency sound waves, when transmitted through solid material, are reflected by any discontinuity such as a void or a flaw. This reflection is converted into a signal on a cathode ray tube (CRT) or flat screen display, which can be interpreted by a trained operator. These sound waves are above the audible frequency of the human ear and can be transmitted in three different forms: a) b) c) Longitudinal - in the same direction as the motion of the sound. Transverse - perpendicular to the motion of the sound. Surface - transverse waves along the surface of the material.

The pitch of the sound is controlled by its frequency and its speed through the material by the characteristics of the material. Each probe comprises a quartz crystal and sound damping material. When the crystal is fed with an ac supply, it vibrates at the frequency of the received input. These vibrations are passed into the material in a direction related to the shape of the probe.


The receiver crystal is vibrated by the received sound waves and generates an ac supply, which is fed into the vertical axis of the CRT. The result is a line on the CRT with a number of vertical blips.

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To prevent any signal coming from the air gap between the probe and the surface a couplant such as oil is used. On material without any flaws there will be a vertical to represent the top surface and another the bottom surface; the distance between them related to thickness of material (distance travelled by the sound waves). A void within the material will reflect the sound waves earlier and erect a smaller vertical line on the screen between the first and second verticals at a position related to its distance from the surface. Note that the screen displays shown in figure 8 show a clear indication of a defect. In reality the indications may be difficult to see and interpret. Also expertise is needed to operate the probe as defect orientation may require several passes using different sides of the material.

Radiography A user-unfriendly system that produces X-ray pictures to be analysed. Using either X or Gamma rays which can pass through almost all materials and which are extremely dangerous to humans (as well as animals). This system is not too unlike photography in general practice.

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X-Rays These are generated in an electron tube needing 250,000 Volts to give a better picture quality than gamma rays. The electron tube (X-ray tube) is relatively large which can give access problems.

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Gamma Rays Self-generated by radioactive isotopes, each isotope being about the size of a overcoat button. Access into small spaces is easier into shafts, etc. Has a poorer picture quality than X-rays. In general the process is as follows: (a) (b) Set up equipment with X-ray tube on one side of the part to be checked and the (light sealed) negative on the other side. Place test piece in front of negative (this provides a density comparator on the negative so that comparisons can be made between it and the rest of the image). Check exposure times and distance of tube from part (distance measuring rod supplied). Clear hangar of personnel and place warning signs around aircraft. From remote control panel switch on tube and monitor the area. After the correct exposure time switch off tube and remove equipment/signs. Allow maintenance personnel back on aircraft. Develop negative and analyse results.

(c) (d) (e) (f) (g)

The process requires a high level of expertise both in setting up the equipment, calculating the exposure times and interpreting the X-ray results. The equipment is also dangerous to use. Operators require a regular medical check-up and wear a personal radiation dosimeter. Always stay out of roped off areas.

QUESTION If a defect was found using any of the above methods, what action would you take? (10 mins) ANSWER If the crack or void is in a component then it will normally require replacement, but check the manual first some cracks might just be allowed if they run in a certain direction and/or are in a certain area and/or are below a certain length, but will normally need stop drilling. If a crack or void is in a structural member it may be classed as negligible (check SRM the same parameters may apply as above) and stop drill the ends of the crack. If the defect is outside the negligible limits then the area must be repaired in accordance with the SRM, or the part replaced. If porosity is found then check the repair manual, but in general the component is replaced, or the area repaired. QUESTION What does stop drill the end of the crack mean and why is it carried out? (5 mins)

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The exact end of the crack is located (often very difficult) and a drill is used to drill a hole right through the cracked material. This has the effect of reducing the stress concentration at the crack end to a lower concentration on the wall of the drilled hole, so (hopefully) stopping the crack from propagating. Always inspect the crack at a later date to see that it has not developed further.

QUESTION If an NDT team was to carry out an inspection on your aircraft, what would be their relationship to you as a licensed engineer? (5 mins) ANSWER They would be requested by you or the senior engineer of the company to carry out the NDT test. Their findings would be recorded and signed for using their own documentation and they would report back to you (or the senior engineer). They would hand over their recorded findings and you would clear the defect in the log-book (if no defect was found or after rectification carried out) making reference to the NDT report.

QUESTION What parts of the aircraft would you carry out an NDT test on and when? (5 mins) ANSWER Those parts/components that the CAA/aircraft manufacturer or your company tells you to or a part that you are highly suspicious of. Airworthiness Directives/Service Bulletins will be sent from the CAA/manufacturer to all operators of your aircraft to carry out a particular check. The instructions will normally indicate a time limit and if it says before next flight it effectively grounds the aircraft. In some cases a report has to be sent back to the CAA/manufacturer of the findings.

Note. The student is advised to read CAP 747 GR 23 (was in AN 94) Personnel Certification For Non-destructive Testing.

COMPOSITE REPAIRS Repairs to composite structures is generally considered to be more difficult than repairs to metal structures. Of course, all repair information, composite and metal, is given in the SRM and most operators will use a composites qualified person or team to carry out repairs. However, as a licensed engineer you are required to know how this is done as the composites person will report to you on completion of the repair. For repairs involving cores the SRM usually specifies that the same type of core is fitted to that which has been removed during the repair process.

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Remember on radomes/dielectric covers the repair should be radar transparent. The repair should also follow, as far as possible, the original contour and shape of the original component.

Preparation and Mixing of Resins In general always: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) Wear protective clothing, including goggles. Work in a well ventilated area. Mix the chemicals in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Wash the area thoroughly if chemicals come in contact with the skin. Irrigate the eyes immediately with water if the chemicals come into contact with the eyes and seek medical advice.

The ingredients should be stored (normal maximum time 12 months) at temperatures less than 10C and be allowed to come to room temperature before mixing and all materials, working areas, tools and utensils must be kept thoroughly clean and dry.


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The resin and additives should be carefully measured into a glass container in the correct proportions as specified in the manufactures instructions. These proportions may be specified as percentages by weight. The catalyst should be thoroughly mixed into the resin before adding the accelerator and any additional material such as fillers etc.

Pot Life Once mixed the resin begins to cure and may have a pot life of between a few minutes and several hours before it begins to gel. Always ensure the resin is used well within its pot life time. Discard (in accordance with local regulations) all time expired materials.


Curing Most mixed resins will cure at room temperature within a few hours, but may take several days to cure completely. It may be necessary to use heat to cure the resin, so check the SRM for details. Heating may be carried out by the use of lamps, electric heaters, electric blankets or ovens. Temperature control may be by a thermostat or by marking the part with a special heat sensitive pencil that changes colour at a specific temperature.

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Film Adhesives Some adhesives are supplied in film form and the amount required is simply cut from a large sheet. They are generally easier to apply than liquid or powder adhesives, but once the protective backing is removed it is most important that the adhesive film is not touched as this will severely affect its adhesive properties. Figure 11 shows an example of a patch repair to a crack on the outer skin. The ends of the crack are stop-drilled using a 3/16th (4.8mm) twist drill. Glass cloth patches (3) are cut as per the SRM and using the mixed resin bonding agent are cemented into position. Pressure is applied and this can be done using a vacuum sheet stuck with double sided sticky tape to the skin. A parting layer is used between the patches and the vacuum sheet, and vacuum is applied from a vacuum pump via a valve in the vacuum sheet. Figure 12 shows a typical repair where the outer skin is damaged and has to be repaired by insertion. The skin is cut away without damaging the core using a router (not easy as the skin and core are bonded together). Two glass cloth inserts are cut and (using the mixed resin) placed into position. The glass cloth patches are placed in the same way. Again, pressure is applied as before. Figures 13, 14 and 15 show repairs where the core has been damaged and requires replacement. Study each drawing and understand how the repair is being carried out. As with the other repairs a router is used for material removal, and sometimes wood chisels and the like are used to remove old resin which is difficult to do. - 24 -

Limits are specified in the SRM as to the maximum length of crack/size of damage, the minimum distance between repairs and the minimum distance from the repair to the edge of the panel.


Figure 15 shows an example from an SRM of an infill repair to a damaged core. Note the limit to the size of the hole that can be filled with Kwikfill. This is a proprietary mix using resin and hardener for the infilling of small holes.

General Repair Considerations 1. 2. With reference to the AMM gain access. Ascertain the exact extent of the damage and classify the repair using the SRM (negligible repairable replacement etc). Damage location may be achieved visually or using the tap test or X-rays (not always easy to interpret) or thermographic techniques (see the book in this series on Non Destructive Testing). 3. Support or jury rig the structure if necessary. 4. Check the effect of the repair on radar transparency if applicable. 5. Mix and use the resins in a warm dry atmosphere (min 20C). 6. Remove resins from store and allow to attain room temperature for at least 24 hours. 7. Remove paint from the area by sanding, then clean with acetone or MEK and allow to dry. 8. Cut out the damage to a regular shape, stepped or otherwise, as per the SRM dimensions. 9. Sand area if specified in the SRM. 10. Lay up the repair using cloth and resins in accordance with the repair manual. Cloth may be weft and warp (plain) or weftless weave depending on the SRM. Cloth yarns (weft/warp) normally laid in the same direction as the original lay.

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11. Apply pressure to the repair using weights, clamps or vacuum bags (usually vacuum systems are used). 12. Use a mould for more complex shapes made from wood or other similar material to provide shape to the repair. 13. Use heater blanket (if specified) (figure 22) with thermostatic control. Ensure temperature sensors are placed correctly next to the blanket (as specified by the blanket manufacturer). If they are too far away from the blanket it will get too hot and the repair will be over-cured which could result in resin bubbling, burning and poor bonding. 14. Use a parting agent on the mould to prevent the resins from adhering to the mould (cellophane or a parting agent). 15. Set up mould, heater blanket, vacuum bag etc and note start time. 16. After specified time (SRM) switch off blanket and remove. 17. Remove all traces of parting agent from the repair and clean. 18. Inspect the repair, repaint and carry out functional check of radar antenna if necessary to check for radar transparency. Note safety measures required when operating radar. 19. If a control surface check weight and mass balance and carry out control system check plus an independent check. 20. Record all work done and clear the Log Book. 21. Reconfigure aircraft and test any disturbed systems. Record and sign.


CARBON FIBRE COMPOSITES (CFCs) Like GRP it is made up of layers of fibre but carbon and not glass. It may be pre-preg (already pre-impregnated with resin) or may be carbon fibre material requiring a bonding agent between the layers. Once the layers are made up the resin is allowed to cure usually using heat and pressure (vacuum bags).

Materials (a) (b) Resins and other chemicals. Stored at -18C usually has a shelf life of 12 months refer to manufacturers literature. CFC and Kevlar material stored in a dark room in their original plastic containers. Kevlar is affected by uv light.

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CFC pre-preg is stored at -18C and again may have a shelf life of 12 months. May have a life of one month out of cold store.

All materials should be allowed to reach room temperature before being used. This usually means keeping at room temperature for a period of 24 hours.

Damage Like GRP, damage that does occur may be difficult to detect. It is therefore important that if damage is suspected then a thorough investigation is carried out over the whole area. The damage is usually associated with impact and the inspection procedure is similar to that used with GRP.


X-rays may be used to check for internal damage/delamination on sandwich structures and ultra-sonics may be used on monolithic structures. When using ultra-sonics a couplant is used between probe and the part being tested (oil or grease on metals). For CFCs a rubber tyred wheel or water is used. Thermal Pulse Thermography (TPT) may be used. This process involves the use of a high intensity thermal pulse and the rate of diffusion is measured. An image of the thermal pattern is then displayed on a screen and a change in the pattern will indicate a defect. Modern TPT systems will involve the use of computers for storage and analysis of data.

Repair The repair process is similar to that which is employed with GRP structures.

Equipment The equipment will vary depending on the type and level of the repair being carried out.

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The following is a typical list of the equipment required: * * * * * * * A CFC bay with everything kept scrupulously clean. Repair heaters - electrical heater mats thermostatically controlled. Vacuum pressure bags - to put the repair under pressure when curing. Temperature probes to monitor the temperature of the repair when curing. Cold storage equipment. Various tools including diamond coated saw blades and diamond tipped drill bits. Breathing equipment and a dust extraction plant. CFC particles and dust are dangerous if breathed in and fumes from the chemicals are toxic.

Repair Methods These will be laid down in Chapter 51 of the SRM and may involve the use of infill, metal patching, GRP lay-up, CFC lay-up, core replacement etc. When assessing the damage always inspect an area much larger than the obvious damage as the impact shock can travel through the material and show up some distance away. For example if it is damage to a panel, check for security and damage at the panel attachments and check for transmitted shock into the surrounding structure. Of course, all these types are damage are laid down in the SRM, as are the repair schemes. In general the repair materials should be the same as the original component unless specified otherwise.

General Repair Procedure (You should be able to incorporate the appropriate parts of the repair procedure from the glass fibre general repair procedure where appropriate.) 1. 2. 3. 4. Clean and dry the repair area. Remove the paint (by sanding) in the area taking care not to damage the fibres. Remove all traces of dust. Remove the damage. Check that all the damage has been removed. Scarf the edges as specified in the manual. The scarfed edge may have a taper of 20:1. The core is removed by the use of a router. Check the repair limitations in the repair manual.


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6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

The fibre layers are laid up by hand and usually involve the use of pre-preg material. This may be laid up at 0, 45 and 90. Use might be made of in-fill, an insert, blind rivets, bolts, metal patches etc. Allow to cold cure use a vacuum bag or heat in an autoclave. Inspect the repair and repaint if necessary. Depending on what has been repaired check the system and sign for all the work done.


Two basic methods of repair: (a) Cold Cure. Using room temperature (20C min) or heater blankets. Curing can take up to 7 days but with heater blankets using temperatures of about 80C the time can be reduced to less than an hour depending on materials, type of repair etc. Considered a temporary repair which must be inspected regularly. (b) Hot Cure. This process uses an autoclave with temperatures up to 180C and curing times as short as 45 minutes, again depending on materials and type of repair.

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Repairs to Sandwich Structure The damaged core is usually removed and the void filled with a mixture of adhesive and thickening agent, or a core plug of honeycomb is bonded into position. The skin is then repaired in the same manner as already described.


Delamination and Debonding Delamination occurs when two or more plies become separated from each other often due to impact. They may be repaired by layering or by injecting adhesive through the rivet holes (drilled iaw the repair drawing) and riveted up using blind rivets. Debonding occurs when the honeycomb core separates from the outer skin. Repair can be carried out by injecting adhesive into the honeycomb through holes drilled in the skin. Pressure should be applied to the skin to ensure a good bond between the skin and the core material.


Metal Patching The metal patch may be bolted or bonded into position. Metal patching does not attempt to restore the structure to its original strength or contour but is a quick method of repairing small cracks or limited damage to non-primary structures. - 30 -




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Figure 22 shows an actual example taken from an aircraft SRM. Study the drawing and note the following: * * * * * * * The repair plies, insert core and adhesive. The vacuum bag stuck down around the edges with bag seal tape (double sided sticky tape). The vacuum hose connection. Parting films or layers to stop the bleeder cloth plies/rubber sheets from adhering to the repair. Bleeder cloth layers to allow all air to be evenly drawn away from the repair. Silicon rubber sheet to allow an even pressure over the whole area of repair. The thermostatically controlled heater blanket with its electrical supply. This should overlap the entire repair by 2 along all edges. The drawing does not show this clearly. The temperature probes (thermostats). As shown in the drawing the repair will seriously overheat as they are not under the heater blanket. They must be located under the blanket.

Void Filler Honeycomb Section When repairing honeycomb section where the honeycomb is removed the void must be filled with a core plug or filler compound. The type of filler will depend on the size of the void. In general small diameter voids are filled using: * * An adhesive and thickener. A resin mixed with micro balloons. The micro balloons are small phenolic resin hollow spheres that help to produce a low-density (light-weight) filler. Foam etc.

For larger holes a core plug is manufactured from the same material as the original honeycomb and cemented into position with a resin mix/resin micro balloons mix. The minimum size of hole where a manufactured plug must be fitted is stated in the repair manual eg: * * * A320/310 above 2 in diameter Boeing 737 .. above 0.5 in diameter DC9 .. above 2 in diameter

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Electrical Bonding Some composite structures are electrically bonded to allow for a current path for static electricity discharge. Embedded aluminium foil may be used and external metal discharge strips. Aramid (Kevlar) has an aluminium foil ply.



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AGEING, FATIQUE & CORROSION CONTROL PROGRAMMES The operator in conjunction with the manufacturer of the airframe/engines/ systems will draw up a maintenance programme for the airframe, its systems and the engines. This programme must be approved by the CAA. For small aircraft a standard programme might be used. It is called a LAMS schedule (Light Aircraft Maintenance Schedule). For large aircraft a special one must be approved. The inspection of the airframe may necessitate some dismantling - removal of decor panels, insulation, equipment, inspection panels, etc, but in general routine maintenance consists of regular visual inspections.

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The inspection of the airframe includes the checking for: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Corrosion. Cracks. Damage. Bowing. Buckling. Panting. Loose rivets. Missing and sheared rivets. Fretting (between panels and rivets and panels). Correct alignment of mainplanes, tailplane, fin, engines etc. Contamination - especially around toilets and galleys. Moisture ingress. Serviceability of paint finishes and anti corrosive treatments. Clearance of drainage holes. Security of attachment of other structure, engines, brackets, air data probes, drain masts etc. Cleanliness. Bulging, water ingress, delamination, debonding, splitting, damage and security of composite panels.

The inspection may need the use of lighting equipment, remote viewing equipment and NDT methods where this is thought necessary. The inspections are carried out in accordance with the schedule, but as a good maintenance engineer you have always got your eyes open so if you are near, or on, the aircraft you should always be giving it a critical look.

Geriatric Aircraft There are a number of quite old aircraft in service these days and because of their age they require special attention in relation to the maintenance of the airframe. Most other components can be easily changed, but the airframe is a different matter. When it starts to get old it will need greater attention. Some items on the airframe might be lifed (eg the main spar). In that case it will have to be changed when the airframe reaches that life time (usually measured flying hours). It is an expensive process but the alternative is to scrap the airframe. The inspection of geriatric airframes is not a lot different from ordinary airframe inspection, but inspection frequencies are greater and there is more attention paid to detail particularly inspections for corrosion, moisture contamination etc.

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There is usually more NDT involved using X-rays, ultrasonics and eddy current techniques. All aircraft (but geriatric in particular) suffer from the effects of: Corrosion. The longer any metal is exposed to the atmosphere the more likely it is to suffer from corrosion. Where access is difficult on the airframe this can be a serious problem. Corrosion can be reduced by following a simple set of rules. These include: * * Keep the aircraft in a well ventilated hangar if possible. If aircraft has to be parked outside, besides all the precautions when parking/mooring ensure that covers etc are fitted and if any rain gets in the reasons are investigated and rectification action taken and the wet areas dried. For very old aircraft only take outside on fine dry days. Open doors and hatches often to allow ventilation. Inspect regularly for any signs of deterioration and rectify immediately. Ensure all drains, drain holes etc are clear. Keep aircraft clean (wash outside regularly to remove dirt which encourages corrosion). Keep free from any debris which may collect inside the structure near drain holes etc. Ensure water is drained regularly from fuel systems. Ensure all toilets and galleys are kept clean and dry and inspect these areas carefully as these are prone to corrode because of water/urine proximity/splashes.

* * * * *

* *

Ageing. Items can deteriorate because of the natural aging of certain materials. This process affects natural fabrics, rubber, plastics and composites. In particular they are likely to suffer from surface cracks/crazing, lose of flexibility and lose of strength. Exposure to the sun will generally speed up the process. Components in this category include: tyres; flexible pipelines; flexible fuel tanks/tank linings; door and window seals; control seals through pressure bulkheads; internal sealants; interior dcor panels; fabric coverings (airframe and seat coverings) and all composite structures/composite components. Fatigue. A process of cyclic stressing of a part over a long period of time. In this case each individual stress applied is well within the parts normal working maximum applied stress level, but over a period of time fatigue stress will set in particularly on Al alloys. This can show up as small cracks.

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A special maintenance schedule is followed and there is more frequent consultations with the CAA and the manufacturer over such things as allowable number of cracks, allowable crack lengths, strength of fabric (fabric covered aircraft usually small aircraft) etc. As experience is gained with the airframe so modifications are carried out to update/upgrade components, fitments, etc, (eg engine mounting pins early B747s) and the workload on the maintenance engineer becomes greater. There will generally be more service bulletins to read and inspections related to service bulletins to be carried out. There will be more airframe repair work carried out as panels, frames, stringers and brackets become corroded or damaged and have to be replaced. For fabric covered aircraft original fabrics were usually made of natural fibres (Irish linen, Madapalam etc). These tend to deteriorate with age and regular fabric recovering of the whole airframe was necessary. To help reduce this cost item the CAA have allowed the replacement of the natural fabric with synthetic fabric (manufactured, of course, to CAA approved standards). Synthetic fabrics have a longer life, being less prone to rotting, insect attack etc and the complete re-covering of the airframe is needed less often. In general geriatric aircraft are like geriatric anything - they require a little more care and attention and maintenance schedules are made up in consultation with the manufacturer and the CAA together with the operator to cope with the increased maintenance requirement.

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