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Wed, 11 April 2018

Airbus Demonstrating Drone-Based Maintenance Tool at MRO Americas

Airbus is demonstrating a drone-based maintenance tool at MRO Americas.

Airbusí Advanced Inspection Drone, designed for use inside a hangar, accelerates and facilitates visual checks, considerably reducing aircraft downtime and increasing the quality of inspection reports.

Combining Airbusí extensive aircraft knowledge with best-in-class drone technology, this new product consists of a smart, automatic drone with an integral visual camera, a laser-based obstacle detection sensor, flight planner software and Airbusí aircraft inspection software analysis tool.

 Developed in co-operation with Airbusí subsidiary Testia which specialises in non-destructive testing, this drone-based aircraft inspection system is optimised for inspecting the upper parts of the aircraft fuselage.

Airbusí new Advanced Inspection Drone accelerates and facilitates visual checks of aircraft, considerably reducing aircraft downtime and improving the quality of inspection reports. Click to enlarge.

Following a predefined inspection path, the automated drone captures all the required images with its on-board camera. High quality pictures are then transferred to a PC database for detailed analysis using a software system. This allows the operator to localise and measure visual damage on the aircraftís surface by comparing it with the aircraftís digital mock-up. The software automatically generates an inspection report.

The new system will be available for the industry in the fourth quarter of 2018 following EASA approval of the new inspection process.

Since it is designed for use inside maintenance hangars, the drone is equipped with a laser-based sensor capable of detecting obstacles and halting the inspection if necessary. This laser-based technology allows the vehicle to fly automatically without the need for remote piloting.

Upgrading to the new drone-based system will enable operators and MRO providers to reduce inspection time, allow the aircraft to be released earlier while enhancing the overall quality of the reports, improving damage localisation, repeatability and traceability.

The new inspection process will take only three hours, including 30 minutes of image capture by the drone, and will improve operator safety. By contrast, traditional aircraft visual inspection is performed from the ground or using a telescopic platform, in particular for the upper parts of the aircraft Ė a process which could typically last up to one day.

MRO Americas is taking place in Orlando, Florida from 10-12 April 2018.

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