Now with instructions in AR

Herve GOUSSE/MasterFilms/Airbus Group

PUTTING together an Airbus A350 is an eye-wateringly complex task. The wiring for a single aircraft runs to more than 500 kilometres, not to mention dozens of pipes and hydraulic lines, all held in place by 60,000 brackets. Missing a few is not an option.

To make sure that doesn’t happen – and to speed up the inspection process – manufacturers have started assembling planes with the help of augmented reality (AR).

“It used to take about three weeks for the inspecting team to check all those brackets were in the right position,” says Nicolas Chevassus at Airbus Group Innovations. “Now it’s less than three days.”

Airbus is testing a system called MiRA to build both its A350 and A380 passenger craft. Around 1000 workers across its production sites in Europe and the US have been given tablet computers running augmented reality software.

Pointing the tablet’s camera towards part of the aircraft gives the engineers a view on the screen on which a virtual structure can be overlaid. It will show, for instance, where each bracket should be. Comparing what’s on the screen with the actual aircraft makes it easy to spot missing parts.

Airbus is also using AR to check that control panels are correctly configured. Every switch and button that needs to be set for a given test is highlighted in the AR view.

The tablet-based system works well when one or two people need to see what is on screen. But to give a view that several engineers can …

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