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USAF looks at UAS flightline maintenance

14th March 2017 - 13:30 by The Shephard News Team

USAF looks at UAS flightline maintenance

The US Air Force's 412th Test Wing's Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (CTF) has used a quadcopter UAS to carry out maintenance inspection of a C-17 aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base.

The CTF is looking to apply UAS technologies to maintenance procedures in order to reduce timescales and make inspections safer for personnel.

This is the first time that the CTF has flown a UAS on the flightline. The test team conducted three sorties, relaying live video captured by the UAS camera payload to maintainers. The video will be assessed to determine if it is of high enough quality to see smaller details of the cargo plane's exterior such as structural abnormalities, rivets and cracks.

In this instance, the test was so successful that the maintainers used the data to sign off their preflight external inspection.

Staff Sgt Joshua Jaburek, of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at JB Lewis-McChord, said: 'This could save (maintainers) a lot of time. When we go on top of the airplane, we can only walk on certain parts and then we have to hook and unhook our (safety harness) every few feet.'

It is hoped that this first test on the flightline will pave the way for future UAS tests and test procedures, including future potential applications such as roof inspections, airfield inspections and environmental-concern area inspections.

Earlier this year the CTF carried out testing to determine if a quadcopter can be used to calibrate the 412th Range Squadron's telemetry antennas on base, with positive results.

The newly formed CTF's mission is to provide agile, innovative flight test capabilities for emerging technologies.

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