HomeNewsArticle Display

AF uses first drone for C-17 post flight inspection

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted three test sorties March 6 using a quadcopter to inspect a C-17 Globemaster III. Maj. Dan Riley, ET CTF director, and Maj. William Niblack, ET CTF operations officer, piloted the small unmanned aerial system. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted three test sorties March 6, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., using a quadcopter to inspect a C-17 Globemaster III. Maj. Dan Riley, the CTF director, and Maj. William Niblack, the CTF operations officer, piloted the small unmanned aerial system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted a test with a quadcopter to see how well it can conduct a maintenance inspection of the exterior of a C-17 Globemaster III March 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted a test with a quadcopter to see how well it can conduct a maintenance inspection of the exterior of a C-17 Globemaster III March 6, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force used a quadcopter to conduct a maintenance inspection of the exterior of a C-17 Globemaster III here March 6, 2017.

The C-17 was on loan from Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington. It was the first time the CTF flew a small unmanned aerial system on the flightline and the second time the CTF has used a sUAS in a new application that shows promise.

The winds remained manageable and allowed the test team to conduct three sorties with the quadcopter, which was fitted with a video camera. Live video was assessed by the team that included maintainers, to determine if the quality was adequate for routine inspections. The video recorded from the quadcopter’s camera will be analyzed to see if it is clear enough to see smaller details of the cargo plane’s exterior such as structural abnormalities, rivets and cracks.

Maj. Dan Riley, the CTF director said, the test was so successful that the maintainers used the data to sign off their preflight external inspection, a first for the Air Force.
“This could save (maintainers) a lot of time,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Jaburek, of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at JB Lewis-McChord. “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) very few feet.”

Inspections that would normally take 45 minutes to an hour could be done just in a few minutes with a quadcopter if it’s successful. Maintainers also would not need a lift to inspect a C-17’s tail, Jaburek said.

Capt. Justin Merrick, a CTF lead engineer said, the CTF got the idea from seeing a video online showing a commercial airline company using a sUAS to inspect a plane.

“(Leadership) encourages us to go out and conduct tests, so after we saw some videos online we contacted some maintainers here and they were very enthusiastic to help out,” Merrick said.

Riley added that this first test on the flightline could pave the way for future sUAS tests and test procedures.

“Another reason we've conducted this test is to open the aperture on flying a sUAS near the airfield, which has been frowned upon in the past,” Riley said. “As we execute these missions it establishes a baseline for how operations can be conducted safely, not only here at Edwards, but at other bases as well. We couldn't have accomplished what we have so far without the support of the 412th Operations Group and test wing commander in breaking down some of the barriers to these types of operations.”

Riley said the CTF is looking at a variety of other missions in the near future such as roof inspections, airfield inspections and environmental-concern area inspections.

In February, the newly formed CTF began testing a quadcopter to determine if it was possible to use the sUAS to calibrate the 412th Range Squadron’s telemetry antennas on base. Those tests also yielded positive results.

The CTF was officially activated last July and its mission is to provide agile, innovative flight test capabilities for emerging technologies and to explore the Air Force warfighting capabilities of tomorrow. Current focuses are on the use of sUAS for testing and operational use, and on autonomous systems’ development and use.

Engage

Twitter
Check out the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center's new mission! @HQ_AFMC #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/fRTJUKp1eb
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Col. Geoffrey Jensen, the @173rdFW's Operations Group commander, pilots an F-15 Eagle over Kingsley Field in Klamath Fall…
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: From the Arctic to Africa, the Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing are always ready! #ReadyAF https://t.co/StKBRCTkkT
Twitter
Help make the Department of the Air Force the best place for civilians to work by voicing your opinions via the upc… https://t.co/oUOpAWD59W
Twitter
#DYK Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems, goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their win… https://t.co/xWfzCBZ0xr
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: Medical IMAs mobilized for historic #COVID19 response - https://t.co/evp9O1QuQp (Story by @HQRIO) #ReserveReady #ReserveRe
Twitter
“Burnout and compassion fatigue are real risks for health providers, especially now with so many additional stresso… https://t.co/XkSlRLDTp9
Twitter
The F-16 is able to fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons w/ superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy… https://t.co/UjTvbH9G1x
Twitter
Airmen unload a C-130 Hercules @386thAEW. The 386th AEW is @CENTCOM’s theatre gateway & is responsible for deliveri… https://t.co/ScQnaO21Qq
Twitter
Know the tools designed to serve you! https://t.co/obVBkZzapj
Twitter
When #COVID19 disrupted her family's routine, Ayesha Beck, a Phase II Radiology instructor @59_MDW, had to figure o… https://t.co/qf0tyWPbuM
Twitter
.@USAFReserve's Capt. Katie Saunders took a break from her regular job as a Family Nurse Practitioner to serve w/ t… https://t.co/0jawDHGhdx
Twitter
.@RenovoDerm has developed a synthetic version of an advanced skin graft which can be used in wound and burn care.… https://t.co/nULcRAETwa
Twitter
“We’re doing a lot of work toward becoming a more diverse force, but I think we have the opportunity in front of us… https://t.co/qqj6wY0A7v
Twitter
RT @MINationalGuard: Providing exceptional service to Michiganders, the Michigan National Guard has faced unprecedented challenges in respo…
Twitter
Check out how the @F35DemoTeam performs the Inverted-to-Inverted Pass maneuver. #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/oewD5hsMjH
Twitter
"We’re the big tent service because we have the most diverse mission set. We do leaflets to nukes. We ought to be t… https://t.co/uTsRSr98qA
Twitter
#Staysafe while using your local library. Great job @RamsteinAirBase! https://t.co/m2enNSRWji
Twitter
RT @TheLeeGreenwood: Honored to have collaborated with the @usairforce band and @HomeFreeGuys on my song #GodBlessTheUSA ! Happy Birthday A…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,249,863
Follow Us