US: Airbus has launched its innovative answer to aircraft maintenance at MRO Americas, which is a UAV known as the Airbus Advanced Inspection Drone. The tool has been designed to reduce aircraft downtime, by speeding up visual checks and increasing the quality of inspection reports.
This new product is made up of an autonomous drone with an integrated photo camera, obstacle detection laser sensor, and flight planning software.
This drone-based aircraft inspection system has been developed in close partnership with Airbus’ subsidiary Testia, and has been in particular designed for inspecting the upper parts of the aircraft fuselage. It will be available for the industry in late 2018, once it has achieved EASA approval for this innovative inspection process. Several airlines which have expressed interest following initial demonstrations by Airbus, and the tool is expected to also be offered to MRO organizations.
In order to operate safely within maintenance hangars, the Airbus Advanced Inspection Drone is equipped with an obstacle detection laser sensors which halt inspections if mitigation of damage and danger is required.
Compared to traditional aircraft visual inspection, which could typically last up to one day, this new inspection process can take a very short three hours, including 30 minutes of image captured by the drone.
The Airbus Advanced Inspection Drone makes up part of Airbus’ ‘Hangar of the Future’ (HoF), which is an innovation maintenance project begun initiated by Airbus Singapore in 2016.