Not that long ago military bodies were racing to distance themselves from drone industry leader DJI. The US Army grounded its use of DJI products in a move that was probably justified at the time. The Australian Defence Force quickly followed suit.
It looked as though DJI’s days as an equipment provider for sensitive military operations and government contracts were over. But the Chinese manufacturer got its act together pretty quickly: A bug bounty program was introduced – admittedly with some issues at first. Independent cybersecurity reports were commissioned; concerns have been addressed.
Given the importance of keeping sensitive data secure for businesses and organizations, it’s been a necessary journey of reputation restoration.
Australian Air Force Using DJI for Aircraft Inspections
And it seems to be working. The air force in Australia been using a DJI Phantom 4 to carry out inspections of its aircraft, so we can assume that those concerns are a thing of the past.
The logistics of adequately inspecting a plane in a hangar make having a view from above a gamechanger. Using a drone, engineers on the ground can take a tour of the plane and check its key components while receiving live high definition video, which can be rewatched, rewound and assessed by multiple parties.
The use of a drone for aircraft inspections proves that manned aircraft and drone pilots can actually work together to save time and money. Drones and airports don’t usually combine so well.
The Australian Airforce’s C-17A aircraft – a large military transport plane – undergo inspections every 180 days. This can now be done in less than 30 minutes with the help of a DJI drone.
The drone is able to inspect hard to access areas of the aircraft at the RAAF base in Amberley, Queensland. The C-17A’s 16.8m high vertical stabilizer would otherwise need a team relying on elevated platforms for an inspection.
Senior engineering officer squadron leader Evan Smith, said: “This helps the aircraft surface finishers to identify and track paint degradation on the upper surface of the C-17A, triage paint defects and plan remediation work”
He explained that the drone also prevents staff from being put at risk during inspections, as well as speeding up the process.
“Introducing this drone and these procedures goes further to reducing workplace health and safety risks to so far as reasonably practicable,” he said. The Army has extensive experience using this particular model, and managing the information downloaded from it which we do through a standalone laptop, and have been able to adapt Army’s practices to suit our needs.”
DJI Providing New Tools For Aircraft Inspection
Back in October DJI released a short film showing how the company’s drones were assisting engineers at American Airlines, who are tasked with similar inspections on a regular basis.
You can watch the video below…