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It's an airline pilot calling…and he's onto something


Michael Stuart, senior product marketing manager for thermal imaging products at Fluke, conducting a class.

There was something about that first contact that intrigued the Fluke thermography team. The details were vague. But Jordan Schlichting, sales manager, and Michael Stuart, senior product marketing manager for thermal imaging products, could see that John Horrigan knew what he was talking about - and that he was onto something.

Horrigan wanted to exploit all the capabilities of his Fluke Ti25 Infrared Camera - essentially to use the 19,200 infrared pixels in its sensor array as the equivalent of 19,200 individual temperature detection points spread across the wing of an aircraft. The concept went way beyond any typical application.

“We always try to promote proper use of the technology,” said Stuart, “but we are also always interested in pushing the limits.”

Horrigan told Stuart he was looking at an important “cold weather situation” and that he needed to inspect low emissivity materials. After much back-and-forth, Horrigan explained the purpose of his research: to understand how, why, and when frost forms on aircraft wings, and to share that knowledge with pilots and ground crews to make air travel safer.

“Only at that point did I really understand the kind of work he was doing, and how important it could be if done properly and diligently,” Stuart said. Schlichting then began helping Horrigan gather and analyze data more efficiently, while Stuart assisted on the science.

“This was really quite an intriguing project,” says Stuart. “It required careful attention to detail and a very good understanding of the physics and limitations of thermal technology. I never pass up the opportunity to ‘geek out’ on an interesting thermography project.”

All three have continued to discuss problems and collaborate on possibilities, and Horrigan has added a Fluke Ti32 Infrared Camera to his toolbox to expand his measurement capabilities even further.

“The ingenuity of our customers really is boundless,” adds Stuart. “When we get this kind of opportunity to participate in a customer’s problem-solving process, the things we learn in that one situation help us develop solutions for all kinds of other customers. With customers like John, I guess you could say that 'the sky is the limit' on what we can accomplish together.”

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