EasyJet Tests Plane Safety Inspections by Autonomous Drone

By Gary Cutlack on at

The budget flier has a new tech-related thing in the pipeline that could shave minutes off the time it spends inspecting its fleet -- drones. Drones programmed to automatically inspect planes for damage, coming for real across its network in 2016.

As part of a wider announcement about its various tech plans, EasyJet said of the drone inspections: "The tests prove that pre-programmed drones could help reduce the number of hours an aircraft is out of service after events such as lightning strikes compared to manual inspection. easyJet aims to bring the drones into service in its engineering bases across Europe within 12 months."

The flier is also doing something with Airbus to bring predictive fault prognostics to its planes, plus it's testing the use of 3D printing to replace cabin parts. Although the latter innovation doesn't sound much easier than simply buying what's needed out of a spare parts catalogue, EasyJet says it could help reduce the need to store so many spare bits.

Ian Davies, EasyJet's Head of Engineering, said: "The use of these emerging technologies frees up our engineering and digital teams to enable them to undertake more skilled tasks, keeping our costs down which in turn keeps our fares low, helps minimise delays and ensures that we maintain our industry leading punctuality for our passengers." [EasyJet]