The battle of the budget airlines is all about cost savings. British low cost carrier EasyJet thinks it can save a buck or two by using drones to help it with aircraft inspections, it announced Monday. The company is investigating the use of preprogrammed drones to check aircraft on the ground after serious events such as lightning or bird strikes.
As it stand now these sort of inspections are done visually and require a certified engineer to physically get up above the aircraft and walk around its exterior. As aircraft are quite large, this requires a platform and is time consuming.
The company is banking on drones to be able to do the work faster and more safely by flying around the aircraft taking pictures pictures, which an engineer can then review on a computer workstation.
The company states that a human review and sign-off will still be needed on any aircraft that has been checked by a drone, which likely means the airline will test the effectiveness of the drone program against the manual inspection system before making the decision to solely use the drones.
EasyJet says it has already proven that a drone safety check is possible and is working with Bristol University and Blue Bear Systems, a British drone company, to create the pilot project.
Right now the project is looking to improve the resolution of images, so that ultra-fine details will appear on computer screens.
The company is looking to deploy the pilot program in the next twelve months.