It seems that as fast as technologists can come up with new devices and innovations, entrepreneurs can think of endless applications for them. I've always found this fascinating, not because I personally am pretty good at immediately recognizing uses for such things in the real world across many industries, but because I see others with a similar mindset able to do the same. Well, I'd like to make a case in point as an example here today – then I'd like to discuss this with you if I might.
As a pilot, I was taught early on to spend time pre-flighting, this is where the pilot looks over the aircraft to see if anything is out of place which might affect the aircraft's performance. Only on rare occasions have I looked at an aircraft and decided it was not worth the risk to fly it, and called someone else to have a second look, usually a knowledgeable aircraft mechanic. When it comes to airline safety well this is even a more important issue, more lives are at stake.
Not long ago, I was watching a very interesting product video on Armed Forces International – Military IT News titled; “Inzpire IT Systems for Military Aircraft,” posted on September 17, 2013. I thought to myself that if a tablet like device were water and weather proof, then a pilot could look over and pre-flight the aircraft, and if something was amiss, they could take a digital picture of it and/or video in high resolution and send it to an airline mechanic in real time. Then have a conversation with the mechanic as to whether it was merely a squawk item to be noted in the aircraft maintenance log – or it meant the aircraft should be flagged for out of service.
Having such ability would indeed lead to better decision making, and thus, better safety. Airlines could save money and perhaps the fast time to inspect could mean fewer flight delays, fewer trips on the ramp, and all around save money for the airlines – something that every airline must consider these days with the high prices of new aircraft, fuel costs, and union demands.
How simple would it be to create such a real time system for video and digital feed, along with instant phone conferencing? Piece of cake all the off the shelf technology already exists, just use it. In fact, you could send a robot to preflight the aircraft in inclement weather as well, again all in real time using basically the same types of hardware and equipment; “this is your pre-flight robot inspection system – there seems to be a problem here, what are your thoughts on this human pilot?”