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Aviation News Airbus embarks on inspection drone to reduce aircraft inspection times

Airbus embarks on inspection drone to reduce aircraft inspection times

Léo Barnier in Orlando
25 APR 2018 | 343 words
Airbus embarks on inspection drone to reduce aircraft inspection times
© Airbus
A concept which is already being tested by certain airlines, aircraft inspection by drone is really taking off. Airbus announced on 10th April during MRO Americas exhibition in Orlando that it was launching a new maintenance tool based on drone inspection. It should enable the time needed for these operations to be significantly reduced. It will be available from the last quarter of 2018 for MRO companies and airlines, subject to approval by the EASA.

Airbus's tool will initially be used to inspect its single-aisle aircraft, the A320 and A320neo families. It is also limited to hangar inspections, which are easier to implement than outdoor inspections, particularly in terms of regulation. The acceptance by authorities of drones in airport environments remains a major sticking point for the expansion of this type of solution.

Airbus joined forces with its Testia subsidiary, which specialises in non-destructive testing, to propose these drone inspections. Their drone is equipped with a high definition video camera for its inspections, along with a laser sensor to detect and avoid obstacles. Airbus and Testia have also developed a flight planning application to automate inspections and a tool to analyse the images taken by the drone.

The drone may then carry out its inspection independently according to a scheme defined in advance and take photos of the whole fuselage, within thirty minutes. The images are then sent to an operator who can compare them to the plane's digital model to detect any visual damage using the analysis tool. This tool will then automatically generate an inspection report.

Airbus estimates that a complete aircraft inspection will take three hours compared with a full day at the moment and will enable heavy equipment such as telescopic platforms to be avoided.

The European manufacturer specifies that this drone inspection tool is part of its "Hangar of the Future" (HoF) initiative, which it has been carrying out in Singapore for the last two years. Its objective is to create value by digitising and automating maintenance activities.
Léo Barnier
Specialized journalist
Industry & Technology, Equipments, MRO


 
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