Drone Technology for Airplane Inspection and Maintenance

British airline carrier easyJet has announced plans to introduce the use of drones as part of routine inspection and maintenance on its Airbus A319 and A320 fleet, noting that the use of drones will reduce aircraft down time, thereby cutting costs and minimizing delays. For some time now various industries have been using drones to inspect hard to reach areas, and as drone technology advances it is likely that this will become more commonplace. easyJet plans to make use of drones to scan and take 3D pictures of areas that are currently inspected by engineers. The images will be viewed and analyzed by engineers, who will then take the appropriate action. By being able to inspect areas that are difficult to access, much quicker and possibly more thoroughly than a human could, the use of drones will free up time for engineers to focus on urgent issues.

Head of aerial robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Arthur Richards, notes that drones are well suited to aircraft inspection as they are able to retrieve accurate data from awkward places. Bristol Robotics – a partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England – will be working with easyJet on developing the drones to meet the specific requirements of aircraft inspection.

easyJet has also announced that it is investigating the feasibility of using virtual reality glasses to convey what a pilot or engineer is seeing to a remote engineering team with the know-how to diagnose technical issues. It is anticipated that this will be particularly useful in the airline’s more remote destinations. Moreover, the airline is investigating options to create paperless environments for engineers and pilots through technology.

Based at London Luton Airport, easyJet is the United Kingdom’s largest airline measured by number of passengers carried. It operates international and domestic flights, covering more than 600 routes in 32 countries. The publicly traded company is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index on the London Stock Exchange.