British airline easyJet has announced that it will be using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to assist in external inspections of its collection of Airbus jets.
The airline is working with CopterCraft, a provider of multi-rotor aerial solutions for videos and photography; metrology company Measurement Solutions; and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory to modify existing technology so that drones can be employed to examine its Airbus fleet.
According to easyJet, the UAS will be programmed to scan and assess the planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage that may require further inspection or maintenance work. The drones, easyJet notes, are currently in development, with a view to testing them in the coming months.
The drones could be operational as early as next year, the airline adds.
‘Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks,’ comments Ian Davies, head of engineering for easyJet. ‘Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy.’
‘Aircraft inspection is a great application for drones,’ remarks Arthur Richards, head of aerial robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. ‘Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.’