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Easyjet is testing the use of drone technology to assist engineers in inspecting its aircraft for faults.
The drones will be programmed to scan and assess the planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage which may require further inspection or maintenance work.
Easyjet said the drones will help cut the time of inspection on its 220-strong fleet of Airbus aircraft from a day down to “a couple of hours”.
The drones are currently in development with a view to trialling them in the coming months and introducing them into operation as early as next year.
Easyjet demonstrated the technology at an event held earlier today (May 7) at its Luton airport headquarters.
Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall said the new technology will help the airline run more “effectively, efficiently and safely”.
“The advantage of these emerging technologies is threefold – freeing up our engineering team to undertake more skilled tasks, keeping our costs down which in turn keeps our fares low and helping to minimise delays so maintaining our industry leading punctuality,” McCall said.
As well as employing drones, Easyjet announced it was installing each cockpit with Sony tablet computers in place of laptops and printed navigational charts as part of its drive towards “paperless planes”.
The airline said the rewards of having "paperless aircraft" and not transporting hefty log books are high - for every kilo of weight taken off Easyjet's fleet of aircraft, the company predicts it saves $20,000 a year in fuel costs.
The airline's head of flight operations Brian Tyrrell said: “Eradicating paper, including the cumbersome manuals with thousands of pages on-board, by providing access to the same information via these devices is an important step in reducing weight and improving speed and efficiency.”
Easyjet also unveiled virtual reality glasses for its engineers. At the moment engineers and pilots email pictures and call Easyjet's Operations Control Centre to try to resolve issues over the phone, but said the wearable technology can relay images back to base.
The airline wants to use the technology in airports such as Sharm el Sheikh and Tel Aviv.
Initial trials are already underway for the glasses and Easyjet expect to be using the equipment later this year.