Best known for cheap fares and an overwhelming amount of day-glow orange decor, English budget airline easyJet announced its plans to integrate drone and augmented reality technology to inspect and troubleshoot its fleet of Airbus jets.
According to the airline, the integration of these advanced technologies will cut costs and delays by reducing aircraft repairs times.
“Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks. Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy,” said easyJet’s engineering chief Ian Davies.
Instead of having engineers inspect aircraft visually, the automated drone will scan, take 3D images of potential damage areas, and then report back to the engineers. Drone scans will allow for more effective inspection of hard-to-reach areas on the aircraft and will also allow engineers to focus their attention on urgent issues, the company said.
According to the Telegraph, each Bristol Robotics Laboratory designed drone is expected to cost around $25,000, but that figure may be nominal in comparison to the cost of delayed and cancelled flights.
Along with drone technology, easyJet also plan to introduce augmented reality devices to help pilots and engineers troubleshoot mechanical issues remotely. The budget airline plans to equip pilots with “Google Glass-like” mini computers that can stream high-definition video from even the most remote locations back to headquarters in the UK.
The mini-computer will further assist mechanics by superimposing damage areas over the live image. According to the BBC, initial plans call for the use of 4G technology to transmit video. However, easyJet is said to be in talks to switch over to a satellite-based system.
Since cost and safety are both of paramount importance in the airline business, these new technological innovations seem to meld the best of both worlds for easyJet.
Take a look at this video of easyJet’s innovations: