We have recent had some good examples of common damage to radomes come through the shop. This post will highlight the damage which is experienced in the field.
DHC-8 Radome - Excessive Paint
A common fault we find with radomes is the application of paint and bog over existing paint schemes. While adding the weight of the part, it can also have the effect of painting false positives with the radar. This is most common in smaller helicopter and light aircraft radomes.
B200 Kingair Radome - Lightning Strike Damage
Another cause of damage we find with radomes is lightning strike damage. Lightning strikes often hit the radome on aircraft and pass through the aircraft structure. However, upon striking the radome, lightning leaves marks as shown in the following picture. Whilst looking benign on the outside, lightning can often delaminate the composite structure as well as leaving a path for moisture to ingress into the composites.
AS365 Dauphin Radome - Impact Damage
The final cause highlighted recently is that of impact damage. Impact damage can occur in many ways however most common is either hail damage, bird strike or "hangar rash". Impact damage is most often detected with the naked eye, as in this case, with obvious composite damage. It can also be seen in damage to the paint which creates ripples in the paint finish around the area of an impact. A "tap test" can be performed to find the extent of the damage as well as a thermal imaging/moisture ingress test can be performed to examine whether moisture has entered through the damage.