Strat Aero, an international aerospace services company, and AirFusion, a provider of airborne sensor data fusion software and analytics technology, have introduced WindSpect, a wind turbine blade inspection solution involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
WindSpect combines Strat Aero's UAV inspection services with AirFusion's patent-pending Wind Edition Inspection software and analytics to reveal damage that is difficult or impossible to detect with the unaided human eye – e.g., hidden cracks, foreign bodies, depositions of water, loose adhesive joints and uneven coating.
A technical collection team uses a UAV fitted with multiple advanced sensors and HD cameras to collect inspection data, which is stored on a secure digital memory card. When the inspection is complete, the memory card is inserted into a ground-station computer equipped with AirFusion's Wind Edition software, which analyzes the video and sensor data and produces a report automatically.
According to the companies, standard turbine maintenance programs take approximately four to six hours to complete, including the inspection of all three blades and the creation of a report specifying damage discovered and a recommended plan for repair. The WindSpect UAV solution, however, takes a total of one hour to complete.