Lufthansa Technik AG is developing state-of-the art measuring technology for inspecting aircraft tanks reliably and detecting critical infestations early, a press release said Wednesday (October 24, 2018). This comes after discovering that the rate of biofilm formation in the aircraft fuel tanks have been rising steadily for many years. Biofilm is the result of secretions from microbes, which can multiply very quickly under unique circumstances.
Ralf Riemann, Co-ordinator in Lufthansa Technik’s VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services division, said: “The biofilm produced by microbes is more than just a form of visual pollution; it can cause significant damage to aircraft. For example, the microbes can penetrate the smallest cracks, attack the aluminium alloy and lead to corrosion on the wing.”
New analysis method needed
The microorganisms enter aircraft tanks through the air vents on the wings and via the clothes and respiration of mechanics during fuel tank cleaning. The condensation that forms in the tank provides an almost perfect biotope for microbes to grow and multiply rapidly. Increasing resistance to biocides and gradual changes in the microbe population suggest that traditional methods for identifying and eliminating microbes are no longer sufficient. This makes regular inspections of the tanks all the more urgent. The checks are done using new measuring technology and reliable analytical methods to prevent a critical infestation.
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