An average aircraft flies 20,000 times in its lifetime. That’s the equivalent of 60 million miles, and 2,400 times around the entire world.
Many of these aircraft are powered by Rolls-Royce engines. Although these are designed to operate with minimal need for visual inspections, circumstances do however materialize that warrant unscheduled inspections. These could be naturally occurring events such as bird strike or heavy landing etc; they could be as a result of onboard health monitoring systems that indicate a need to checks various systems or components; or they could be a function of known issues attributed to similar or same engines that exist within the installed Fleet.
Regardless of the cause, visual inspections are recognized as the most reliable method to determine the condition of components within the gas turbine. This provides the necessary confidence to sentence whether the asset can be released and continue safe operation on-wing.
This means that a given engine has to be completely shut down. It has to cool down enough to allow for safe access; and staging, tooling, and activation of safety systems are all necessary before anyone is permitted to start working on the engine. Six or more hours could easily pass before any work can begin — not to mention the time taken to conduct the inspection and return the engine to an operable condition thereafter.
Rolls-Royce wanted a way to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate the required inspection dataset in a much more efficient manner — one that enables automated data collection, analyses, and reporting while helping inspectors make more informed decisions, faster.
The creation of an “Intelligent” Engine Inspection system would reduce overall inspection time and help alleviate the risk of human error that can impact inspection outcomes.
Together with Rolls-Royce, we developed a one-of-a-kind “Intelligent Borescope” solution just for them — enabling a level of semi-automated data analyses never before seen in aviation.
Through this partnership, we were able to create a system to address their pain points and improve the overall quality and efficiency of on-wing inspections for everyone involved.
This Intelligent Borescope uses Waygate Technologies’ Everest Mentor iQ VideoProbeTM with Real3D Measurement — the only 3D Phase Measurement software of its kind — along with enhanced probe optics, and custom AI technology to not just semi-automate data capture, but increase it to meet Rolls-Royce’s performance, accuracy, and safety goals.
Flexibility and power.
Only the Everest Mentor iQ offers the flexibility and power that Rolls-Royce’s inspections demand, with Real3D Measurement and the probe tip optics capable of running this new AI application.
The extended range sideview probe tip, which is about the size of a pen lid and only available from Waygate Technologies with Real3D Measurement, uses patented structured light technology to generate a 3D XYZ point cloud of the target surface to check data quality and cursor placement accuracy from multiple angles and perspectives. Advanced optics can view and scan an entire high-pressure turbine blade in one shot.
Menu-directed inspection (MDI).
The Intelligent Borescope is equipped with Waygate Technologies’ menu directed inspection (MDI) and connected to an automated turning tool that rotates the engine and positions each blade correctly — a task that traditionally requires an operator to do by hand.
Automation and AI.
Once each blade is successfully positioned, a signal is sent for the borescope to capture the image automatically. The Intelligent Borescope system continues rotating the engine and collecting images. Data is processed right within the app on the handset using AI technology similar to that used for facial recognition — something never before done in this field.
With this high level of innovation and partnership, Rolls-Royce was able to boost data collection, optimize their inspections, and set themselves up for a future of speed, innovation, safety, and success.
Harnessing Real3D Measurement and AI-enabled automation, this new Intelligent Borescope has massively increase data collection, while reducing aircraft engine inspection time by 75%, and the time to process this data and more by nearly 95%. It’s predicted to save them millions in inspection costs over the next five years, too.
And this is just the beginning. With Waygate Technologies as a partner, there’s no telling what will become possible next.
Rolls-Royce Customer Story: The "Intelligent Borescope"