Drones seems to be everywhere and doing everything lately and that is no exception with the US Air Force. Earlier this month the Air Force’s 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force flew a quadcopter around and over a C-17 Globemaster as part of a post flight inspection.
The quadcopter was equipped with a camera and provided detailed views of the top of the C-17 without anyone having to climb up on the aircraft. The Air Force hopes the video footage will be good enough to show any cracks or other structural issues with the airplane.
Maj. Dan Riley, the CTF director said, the test was so successful that the maintainers used the data to sign off their preflight external inspection, a first for the Air Force.
“This could save (maintainers) a lot of time,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Jaburek, of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at JB Lewis-McChord. “When we go on top of the airplane, we can only walk on certain parts and then we have to hook and unhook our (safety harness) very few feet.”
Inspections that would normally take 45 minutes to an hour could be done just in a few minutes with a quadcopter if it’s successful. Maintainers also would not need a lift to inspect a C-17’s tail, Jaburek said. – US Air Force
The Air Force said they are also going to explore other possible uses for drones such as airfield and building inspections.
easyJet, a private airline has been testing drone inspections of their aircraft.
Featured image of 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducting a test with a quadcopter to see how well it can conduct a maintenance inspection of the exterior of a C-17 Globemaster III March 6, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California by Kenji Thuloweit, US Air Force