EasyJet testing aircraft inspection by drone

Network World | Jun 8, 2015

EasyJet, the pan-European budget airline, is testing using drones to inspect aircraft for damage from events like lightning strikes.

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AIRCRAFT INSPECTION BY DRONE

EasyJet, the pan-European budget airline, is testing using drones to inspect aircraft for damage from events like lightning strikes.

Currently, such inspections are done visually by an engineer and require a platform so they can get all around an aircraft. That takes time.

In contrast, a drone can fly around a plane much faster. As it does so, it snaps pictures of the plane, which can be reviewed by engineers on a screen.

The hope is that the pictures will prove sufficiently detailed to replace the visual check for routine issues, thus shortening the amount of time a jet is out of service. Engineers will still have to sign off on each aircraft.

EasyJet is working with Bristol University and Blue Bear Systems, a British drone company, on trials of the technology and is currently planning to get higher resolution images.

If that proves successful, it hopes to have the system in use in the next 12 months at its maintenance bases in Luton, London Gatwick, Malpensa near Milan and Berlin.

The airline said it's also exploring 3D printing for cabin items such as arm rests and some engine parts, such as fuel nozzles and carbon filter fan blades.