EasyJet to use drones and augmented reality (for maintenance, not flights)

Drones might be the preserve of the military, rich amateur film buffs or destination marketers, but EasyJet has also found a practical use.

As part of a series of initiatives announced this week the European low cost carrier says it has struck a deal with robotic system provider Coptercraft to use drone devices for aircraft inspection.

The idea is that engineers will be able to examine areas of an aircraft without the need for additional equipment or use of a maintenance hangar when carrying out inspections across the fleet.

The devices are expected to be trialled in the coming months and then introduced fully in early-2015.

EasyJet head of engineering, Ian Davies, says:

“Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks.

“Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy.”

The carrier claims the introduction of drone devices will help free up engineering time, save costs and minimise potential delays.

Elsewhere the airline says it will be arming remote engineers with augmented reality glasses so they can send details of an aircraft’s maintenance issues direct to its central engineering team in the UK.

Engineers currently have to take pictures and email them back to the UK if they are inspecting an aircraft at one of the carrier’s more remote airports.

Davies says:

“This will help us get greater clarity on any technical issues which occur hundreds of miles away.

“By wearing the augmented reality glasses, pilots or engineers down route can transmit live pictures and data to the EasyJet Operations Control Centre at Luton giving them direct access to visual information making it easier for them to resolve any technical issue.”

Both initiatives coincide with EasyJet’s drive to create the so-called “paper-less” aircraft on all its routes (currently almost 140 airports across Europe and North Africa), mainly by using Toughpads in place of laptops and printed navigational charts.

The devices will be used by both ground and air crew in a bid to save what EasyJet estimates is around $500,000 a year in fuel costs just by replacing log books.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

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