Drones used to conduct automated inspections at Cranfield Airport – Drones Information


The runway at Cranfield Airport was inspected remotely for the first time using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The flights use drone-in-a-box technology to enable routine inspections using UAVs that can be deployed, restored and recharged automatically without the need for a pilot on site.

In the future, drones could be used to inspect other areas such as fences and perform them regularly – for example, in the morning before the airport opens and in the evening after it closes – to detect damage or the presence of foreign objects, which can be dangerous for aircraft .

Rob Abbott, Director of Aviation Operations at Cranfield Airport, said, “As a fully functional research airport on a university campus, this kind of technology demonstration and development is in our DNA. Using UAVs to conduct inspections could lower operating costs and is another example of the work we are doing to research and harness the potential of unmanned aircraft. “

Edward Anastassacos, General Manager of HEROTECH8, the company that offers the Drone-in-a-Box system, said: “We are very excited to be working with Cranfield Airport on this. We see tremendous benefits in using Drone-in-a-Box technology for industrial inspection and surveillance applications. We hope to be able to demonstrate continuous runway monitoring with Cranfield. These flights are a step towards fully automated industrial drone operations on a large scale. “

Due to the current Line of Sight (VLOS) restrictions, first flights inspect half of the runway and take about 30 minutes, with the drones flying at an altitude of 100 feet above the ground.

Flight inquiries to air traffic control are made before each flight. The captured images or videos are then combined and uploaded to cloud storage for visual review.

Work is currently underway to automate the assessment process using more advanced sensors or thermal imaging cameras to identify and highlight hazards.

According to regulations, UAVs must currently be operated within the remote pilot’s VLOS at all times.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialized postgraduate university that is a world leader in education and transformation research in technology and management.

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