This week at the MRO Americas, Airbus revealed their new Advanced Inspection Drone. This fully autonomous drone speeds up the visual inspection process of aircraft when they are parked inside a hangar. A laser-based obstacle detection sensor, flight planner software, and an Airbus’ aircraft inspection software analysis tool allows the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to perform the entire inspection automatically. This new drone-based process reduces the aircraft downtime drastically, and it improves the quality of the inspection itself.

DJI Inspire 2

Airbus Advanced Inspection Drone

Airbus developed the aircraft inspection software analysis tool together with their subsidiary Testia. It is specifically designed to inspect the upper parts of the fuselage. Inspecting these parts of an airplane with a drone takes only 3 hours in total, including 30 minutes of capturing images. Traditionally this would have taken up to a full day of work for an inspector with a telescopic platform.

Once the EASA has signed off on the new drone inspection method, the new Advanced Inspection Drone and accompanying software package should be available to the industry in the fourth quarter of 2018. Several airline companies have expressed interest based on initial demonstrations.

The Advanced Inspection Drone is part of Airbus’ concept of the ‘Hangar of the Future’, an innovation project launched by Airbus two years ago in Singapore.

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