Airbus is testing out using drones to inspect its planes.
The use of the hi-tech drones will cut the time needed to carry out the checks. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), equipped with a high definition camera, can perform a visual inspection of the upper part of the aircraft. It is flown using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) follows a predetermined flight path and takes a series of pictures automatically.
All images, and especially those showing any potential non-quality such as scratches, dents and painting defects, are compiled in a 3D digital model, recorded in a database and then analyzed. This data helps improve traceability, prevention and reduction of damage. A full-scale industrial test is being conducted on A330 aircraft and Airbus is working on implementation on other programs.
An Airbus spokesman said:
“The benefits of this innovative tool and process are significant. Aircraft downtime for inspection is reduced. Data acquisition by drone only takes 10 to 15 minutes, instead of two hours using conventional methods.”
Nathalie Ducombeau, Airbus head of quality, said in addition:
“The use of this new technology offers better working conditions including improving the safety and comfort for the quality inspectors.”
Aircraft visual inspections are an important part of the production process and are part of the Airbus quality standards.