Lightning striking an airplane is a fairly common occurrence. Sometimes, the pilots are not even aware that they have been hit.
Though aircraft are designed to withstand it, once a plane is hit by lightning it has to undergo a thorough inspection. This manual inspection can take a couple of days where engineers painstakingly scan the whole aircraft to check for signs of damage.
To cut down the time it takes to check for damage to the exterior and quickly get the aircraft back into service, engineers are developing drones to scan the aircraft.
European budget airline EasyJet plans to use an automated drone to reduce downtime due to grueling manual inspections after lightning and bird strikes. Drones will fly around the aircraft snapping high-resolution images that are then shared with engineers for analysis.
Working with Bristol University and Blue Bear Systems, a British drone company, EasyJet has already tested the process successfully. EasyJet hopes to put the drones into service within next year at its maintenance bases in Luton, London Gatwick, Malpensa near Milan, and Berlin.