Most of today’s industry is based on mass production. Production lines are designed to supply customers with identical items that are of a standard quality. Quality control is important from a business perspective. “The basic goal of the entire process is make sure that all products and services are satisfactory, dependable, and fiscally sound to the customers. There are many benefits to this endeavor including increased customer satisfaction and loyalty which translates into increased profits for businesses” (Aveta Business Institute). Another important aspect of quality control is safety. In the airline industry, quality control measures must be in place in order to maximize the safety of passengers. The integrity of an airplanes wings are vital to its staying in the air. Airplane wings can become damaged due to wind and dust and debris in the atmosphere. In order to assure the safety of passengers, a strict set of standards has been set by the SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers, in order to standardize manufacturing of airplane wings as well as their inspection, care and maintenance (SAE International).
The quality control of airplane wings begins with the manufacturing process. This is the vital first step in guaranteeing that the airplane wings are made out of high quality material and fully meet the safety standards set by the government. Aircraft manufacturers and suppliers in the United States are regularly inspected by the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration (Carroll, 1987). FAA inspections are important in several ways. First, inspections help to ensure that manufacturers are maintaining high quality production. If they fail to meet inspection standards, they will be shut down and fined, which is costly and bad for business. Secondly, FAA inspections are important for public confidence. Each day, hundreds of thousands of people board passenger aircraft. They do so on the confidence that those planes are made of high quality and that the chances for a malfunction, and subsequent crash, are very minimal. The FAA inspection certifications help to build public confidence in the airline industry (Carroll, 1987).
Once a plane wing has made it post production and is a part of a functioning aircraft, it still needs to be inspected on a regular basis in order to ensure that structural damage has not occurred. One of the places where structural damage can initially occur is the wings skin. The airplanes skin, which keeps airplane properly pressurized, is only about 0.047 inches thick. When damage occurs to this thin membrane, it can lead to bigger cracks and potentially dangerous issues. Quality control standards are set so that airplane wings which have cracks in the skin must be grounded until they are fixed. Solutions to skin damage detection and repair are actively being researched today. The use of nanotubes are being studied by researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Kanellos). To detect skin cracks, they applied an epoxy layer infused with a wire grid and carbon nanotubes to the wing. An electrical charge was then run through the grid. Cracks create an electrical resistance that can be measured and located with a computer. If their process is found to be safe and cost effective, it could go far in increasing the quality control of airplane wings.
Quality control is vital to ensuring the safety of airline passengers. A strict set of code and standards, coupled with FAA inspections, is needed to minimize the risk of crashes. Quality control is not a static process. Standards have to be updated, on both the manufacturing end as well as post production end. For example, each year, there are innovations in wing design and manufacturing processes, and standards must be kept up with these changes. New international suppliers who wish to sell products to U.S. manufactures must be certified as to ensure the safety and integrity of their products. Quality control processes that are designed and executed properly guarantee that when a plane goes into the air, it stays there.