“Currently to inspect the top of the fuselage, as we do following incidents such as lightning strikes, engineers need to work at heights of up to eight metres,” Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton said.
“Using technology that can identify defects not immediately visible to the human eye and doing so from the ground has the potential to make aircraft maintenance safer and more reliable.”
Christchurch-based robotics company Invert Robotics originally designed the technology for use in the dairy industry to carry out remote-controlled inspections of milk storage tanks.
“While initially designed as a dairy solution our patented robot has proven versatile lending itself well to aircraft deployment,” Invert Robotics CEO James Robertson said.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Air New Zealand to develop the airline application for this technology so that it can potentially be rolled out across the global aviation industry.”
Air New Zealand said it started investigating the use of the robot “after recognising the shape of a milk tank closely resembles an aircraft fuselage.”
“Exploring the introduction of robotic technologies supports the airline’s innovation strategy and if we can help pioneer an aviation application for this technology it could create a significant new commercial opportunity for this home grown Kiwi business,” Parton said.