The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) No 36 Squadron has introduced a DJI Phantom 4 drone to support the Home Station Check on the service’s C-17A Globemaster military transport aircraft.
Home Station Check is a routine servicing conducted on each Globemaster transport aircraft after every six months.
The drone is deployed by the squadron to inspect hard-to-reach areas of the Globemaster transport aircraft, reducing height risks to the C-17A crew members.
RAAF Commander Air Mobility Group air commodore William Kourelakos said: “This is an excellent example of bottom-led innovation from No 36 Squadron in response to the Air Force Safety Always Program (ASAP).
“Introducing this drone and these procedures goes further to reducing Workplace Health and Safety risks to so far as reasonably practicable.
“Air Mobility Group is investigating its applicability across the Air Mobility fleet.”
During the check, the unmanned aerial system is used to survey the tail section inside the aircraft’s vertical stabiliser in only 30 minutes, which, until now, was carried out by the maintenance team using elevated platforms or climbing through a small tunnel inside the stabiliser.
The autonomous system provides high-resolution images and videos that can be provided to agencies, including the Heavy Airlift Systems Program Office, Boeing, and the Defence Science and Technology Group.
No 36 Squadron senior engineering officer squadron leader Evan Smith said that the DJI Phantom 4 drone was introduced into service with help from the Royal Australian Artillery’s 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment.
Smith said: “The Army has extensive experience using this particular model, and managing the information downloaded from it.
“We manage the drone through a standalone laptop, and have been able to adapt Army’s practices to suit our needs.”
“To use it at RAAF Base Amberley, we’ve sought approvals from 452 Squadron as the aerodrome operator, and through Defence’s Airworthiness Coordination and Policy Agency.”