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800px-Aviation_Repair_Technologies_aircraft_repair_hangarBudget airline easyJet has used a automated drone to conduct safety inspections on one of its aircraft for the first time. The pre-programmed drone hovered around an aircraft in a hanger at Luton airport in trial of the new technology that the airline hopes to roll out in 2016.

The company says the technology could help to reduce the amount of time an aircraft is out of service while it’s being examined for damages and safety hazards. Engineers used the drones to aerially scan the aircraft for signs of damage that could make it unsafe to fly. Sensors on the drones allow it to fly around the aircraft automatically and take pictures via  high resolution cameras that are sent to the engineers on the ground.

Regarding these unmanned safety inspections, Ian Davies, EasyJet’s head of engineering, said: “Safety is our number one priority and so all of these new technologies will be applied by our experienced engineering and flight crew to ensure our leading safety record is maintained. ‘We are really confident we have a winning solution of how to inspect a large aircraft quickly.’

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of EasyJet, said: “We have made great strides on our work with drone technology having successfully tested automated drone inspections of our aircraft. All of this work is aimed at further increasing reliability of our aircraft and therefore improving our passengers’ experience.”