Leak Test Technology Development (LTTD) & Prove-out

NCMS Project #: 173003


  • A method to detect and locate leaks of liquids or pressurized gases that may be combustible, hazardous, or functionally detrimental to the end product if a leak occurs is a critical manufacturing and repair process leading to safer and more reliable military systems, and safer industrial or military workplaces.
  • Five candidate technologies were evaluated for location capability and sensitivity: Photoacoustics, Surface Acoustic Wave, Millimeter Wave, Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry, and Speed of Sound (SoS).
  • Primary objectives were: cycle-time reduction, sensitivity, and simultaneous location. Secondary objectives were: robustness, cost effectiveness, and ease of use.


  • Availability: Increased MTBF increased F-14 system availability.
  • Cost: At $5K a sensor ($45K w/charge station), payback was realized in one test with leak found in engine nacelle not found via Fleet Readiness Center Southeast standard test methods.
  • Cycle Time: Individual leaks detected in under one second with immediate recovery. Reduced or eliminated failures at the wet fuel check stage.
  • Reliability: Detected leaks 10x smaller than the leak testing methods used at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast leading to increased MTBF and fuel savings in decreased leak volume during service life.


  • The SoS sensor system was developed for leak checking in repair and refurbishment of fuel systems of the F-14 at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast.
  • Its simplicity results in a robust and economical method for detecting and locating leaks of helium, hydrogen, sulfur hexafluoride and other gases having molecular weights lighter or heavier than ambient air.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy – Fleet Readiness Center Southeast

Industry/Academia Participation:

  • Honeywell FM&T
  • DaimlerChrysler Corporation
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Vacuum Instrument Corporation
  • University of Michigan
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Laser Imaging Systems
  • NCMS

Benefit Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Maintenance avoidance and reliability
  • Improved readiness


Final Report