Some parts of the manufacturing industry have embraced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, one of the industries that has been finding innovative uses has been aerospace. In this instance, using infra red scanning combined with AR technology to test aircraft nacelles.
Nacelles on aircraft are the part of the fuselage where the engine and fuel systems are. These parts are subject to massive stresses, both thermal and aerodynamic, so it is critical that the components used are able to stand the strain. Previously, testing for those components was expensive, time-consuming and sometimes involved ‘test to destruct’ which would result in the tested component being destroyed at a high cost.
Safran Nacelles, who produces the nacelles for the Airbus A320 and A330 series of aircraft, have developed a new process which involves using a robot equipped with an infra red thermography system to scan the components and read the data. This data is then analysed by an inspector, using AR to project the data on to the part being inspected.
“This is more than a new industrial method, it is an innovative process. The teams were mobilised in record time to find solutions for providing support to our customers,” explained Victoria Foy, Managing Director of Safran Nacelles in Burnley. “They put the Group’s highest expertise to use, as well as existing technological and digital tools, such as automation and augmented reality. The digital factory is now a reality at Safran Nacelles.”
Results of trialling the new inspection method have seen a shortening of inspection cycle time by 50% and an increase in equipment availability. Safran is the second biggest provider of aircraft nacelles and has over 18,000 devices in current service all over the world.
“The deployment of IRIS highlights Safran’s expertise and capacity to develop singular technology,” confirmed Stéphane Cueille, Safran Senior Executive VP R&T and Innovation. “It proves that the Group does everything in its power to support their customers by proposing competitive and reliable solutions.”
Safran is not the only part of the aerospace industry to be trying out AR/VR technology. Dassualt Aerospace have been experimenting with using VR to train it’s newest aircraft mechanics.
VRFocus will bring you further updates on AR and VR use in aerospace and other industries.