Wearable Smart Gear for Planes: Letting a Plane Know it is Damaged

Wearable devices are all the rage right now, but that’s for humans. Researchers in the aviation fields, however, are working on wearable smart gear for planes, which would be in the form of a smart skin covering the aircraft. What is it? What would it do? And, how close are we to seeing it in action?

When you get injured, you know it right away. You don’t have to be looking to identify the wound. If you stub your toe, you don’t have to have your head down to know the toe is where you took damage. Planes, however, are completely different. If a plane strikes something in the air, the pilot may feel the hit, but have no idea where the damage occurred or how extensive it is.

BAE is looking to take the human body’s natural alert system and imitate it for planes. By giving the aircraft a layer of micro-sensors, the condition of the outside of the craft can be reported to the pilot in real time.

The sensors are miniature, cheap to manufacture, and can function in a number of ways. The plane wears thousands of them as a skin. They will sense a variety of conditions such as temperature, hull status, acceleration and the earth’s magnetic field. They will also perform other functions that either were previously unavailable or were handled by larger, much more expensive sensors.

If something goes wrong with your body, you take care of it before it gets serious. Unfortunately, sometimes issues with a plane aren’t noticeable until they result in something vital breaking down. These sensors are thus expected to play a large part in airplane maintenance and safety.

Any sort of minor problem would be detected immediately and can be dealt with in an efficient and safe manner. The data collected by these sensors could also be used to make flying more efficient. Therefore, the so-called wearable smart gear for planes would save time, save money, and improve flight safety.