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UAV Inspections of Metallic and Composite Aircraft Panels

VASILEIOS TZITZILONIS, SHAKEB DEANE, NICOLAS P. AVDELIDIS, KONSTANTINOS MALANDRAKIS, JOSE A. GONZALES DOMINGO, CLEMENTE IBARRA CASTANEDO, LUCA ZANOTTI-FRAGONARA, XAVIER P. V. MALDAGUE, ANTONIOS TSOURDOS

Abstract


This work assesses the significance of using a UAV on accelerating and improving the aircraft’s wing panel inspection, both on metallic panels (i.e. Airbus A320 and A380) using a concept of an aerial flow penetrant testing with an on-board UV light on the UAV and composite panels (i.e. Airbus A350) by suggesting an autonomous thermographic imaging approach on a UAV. Although research has been carried-out on automated aerial inspection and maintenance on aircraft parts by using UAVs, no studies have been reported. Most of the work done in this field, implement autonomous ground vehicles or robotic arms for defects detection. Nonetheless, such autonomous mechanisms might not be suitable for all the applications, because ground vehicles might not inspect high facilities, whilst robotic arms might require expensive equipment and appropriate infrastructure. The automated inspection method proposed in this study permits the operator to focus on the results of raw and processed videos (visual and/or IR), without concerning with flight skills, training, and regulations. It is worth mentioning that the operator with a press of the button could start the mission or terminate it by performing an autonomous landing. The implemented condition assessment method is designed to be GPS-independent and perform indoor inspection based-on on-board sensors. Results indicate that the suggested approach could significantly reduce the inspection time, cost, and workload, whilst potentially increase the probability of detection of defects on aircraft wing panels.


DOI
10.12783/shm2019/32511

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