The operational characteristics of detection have been successfully applied for many years in assessing the reliability of non-destructive testing. The main problems for their use, as in the application of any of the methods for assessing the reliability, are the lack of information about the actual defect situation and the limited number of defects in the samples of the objects of control. An additional problem of constructing an operational characteristic of detection is the lack of information about the size of defects and the lack of a universal size for various types of defects. The article summarizes the experience of constructing operational characteristics based on the results of ultrasonic testing. Keywords: non-destructive testing, reliability, probability of detection, operational characteristics, comparative operational characteristics.