While most news reports involving passenger planes and quadcopters concern alarming near-miss incidents, a leading low-cost carrier in Europe is happy to reveal it’s embracing drone technology to help ensure its fleet of aircraft are safe to take to the skies. UK-based easyJet has announced it recently completed a trial in which used camera-equipped quadcopters to inspect its passenger planes.
The drones collected data by buzzing about easyJet aircraft between flights and relaying the high-resolution footage to nearby engineers for analysis. The pre-programmed drones should help the airline save both time and money, as such inspections are usually carried out manually by engineers using large platform positioned around the aircraft.
“The tests prove that pre-programmed drones could help reduce the number of hours an aircraft is out of service after events such as lightning strikes compared to manual inspection,” the carrier said in a release, adding that it hopes to make the technology a permanent part of its procedures in the next 12 months.
In a further tech-related development, easyJet said it’s experimenting with 3D printing as a speedier solution for replacing aircraft parts inside the cabin such as armrests.
The technology is also being used to create components for its next-generation engines that easyJet currently has on order. The high-bypass turbofan LEAP engine features a number of 3D printed parts, among them fuel nozzles, carbon filter fan blades, and ceramic matrix composites, the carrier said.