easyJet’s aircraft maintenance lifts off with Vicon

Vicon T160 motion capture cameras enable easyJet to assess damage more quickly and accurately to reduce out of service time

Vicon, the motion capture technology specialist for the engineering, entertainment and life science industries, announces its T-Series motion capture cameras are being used as part of easyJet’s drone testing programme to manage aircraft damage. Vicon’s precise motion capture technology offers detailed analysis to help cut the amount of time an aircraft is out of service following events such as lightning strikes or hailstorms compared to manual inspection. easyJet expects drones to be in active operation at up to ten engineering hangers across Europe by the end of 2016, helping them to make significant savings that can be passed on to customers.

The testing which took place at Luton Airport, saw a Vicon system tracking the precise location of a drone in relation to an A320 aircraft. According to Boeing, lightning strikes a commercial aircraft on average once a year, this rate is frequent enough for a lightning strike to be considered almost inevitable. For every hour an aircraft is out of service the cost to the airline run’s into tens of thousands of pounds, even before the repair is carried out. However, by automating, speeding up and increasing the effectiveness of the inspection process, there is potential to pass on some significant savings to travelers.

easyJet deployed Vicon’s T160 camera system to track the movement of Blue Bear and Createc’s RISER quadcopter. The system provided the engineering team with precise and reliable real-time feedback which allowed them to validate the data produced by the quadcopter, in order to measure its efficiency.

Ian Davies, easyJet's head of engineering, commented, ‘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 minimize delays and ensures that we maintain our industry leading punctuality for our passengers.’

‘Manually checking aircrafts for damage is becoming less cost effective and there’s a real opportunity to reduce the time aircraft are grounded,’ said Warren Lester, product manager at Vicon. ‘Our motion capture systems provide accurate and reliable data analysis for all types of companies and applications, it’s great to see easyJet using Vicon technology to support its engineering teams.’