Non-Destructive testing (NDT) has a number of important roles to play in ensuring the through-life quality and reliability of many important products whose integrity is of paramount importance. The traditional role of NDT in quality control during manufacture - predominantly defect detection - has been complemented in recent years with materials characterization, stress measurement and inspections in-service. The correct application of NDT can prevent accidents, save lives, protect the environment and avoid economic loss.

To achieve these objectives there is a need to manage NDT operations to ensure that they can be relied upon by the designers and engineers who call for their use. Many of the necessary controls are available through the "NDT infrastructure" which has been established in many countries - comprising research and development, national standards, training courses, personnel certification, third party inspections etc. These infrastructures are quite sophisticated and most complete in the manufacturing quality control sphere of NDT, particularly in those geographical areas where ISO 9001 certification of quality assurance demands comprehensive systems be in place. They are nowhere near so complete in the newer applications of NDT or in-service inspection and need to be developed.