Easyjet to trial drones, virtual reality glasses, e-paper to improve operations

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We were reminded of one of our favourite quotes from sci-fi writer William Gibson: “The future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed,” when we read easyJet’s announcement that the airline will use unmanned drones to inspect its aircraft.

The drones will be programmed to assess the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A319 and A320 planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage which may require further inspection or maintenance work. As EasyJet put it on Twitter: “Drones will help carry out detailed inspections, allowing us to move around every axis of the aircraft.”

EasyJet’s engineering head, Ian Davies, said: “Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks. “Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy. […] For example, dones could be used to pick up damage caused by a lightning strike, the kind of incident that can require a full day of inspections.”

EasyJet is working with the Coptercraft and Measurement Solutions companies as well as Bristol Robotics Laboratory on modifying existing technology so it can bring in the drones. Dr Arthur Richards, head of aerial robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said: “Aircraft inspection is a great application for drones. Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.”

The airline hopes to introduce the drones as early as next year following trials in the next few months.

Virtual reality glasses
EasyJet also announced that it was looking at deploying new technology to enable a remote engineering team to see exactly what a pilot or engineer is seeing using virtual reality glasses.

The glasses use the world’s first high definition see-through display system, providing augmented reality to help easyJet remotely diagnose a technical issue. At the moment engineers and pilots email pictures and call Easyjet’s Operations Control Centre to try to resolve issues over the phone, but with the wearable technology they will be able to relay images directly back to base. Read full article

EasyJet asks travellers to recognize its 10th million passenger at Toulouse Airport

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This case appears in the April 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and SimpliFlying that identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more » 

Tapping into the current nostalgia trend, childhood memories of the globally known ‘Guess Who?’ (a.ka. ‘Who Am I’) game were brought back to life in Toulouse-Blagnac on February 28th, when easyJet created a life-size, live version of the popular board game to celebrate the fact that in 10 years the airline had carried 10 million passengers through the southern France airport.

Situated airside, passengers were invited to get involved in a game to guess the 10 millionth passenger who was hidden in a group of 24 ‘extras’.

The rules mimicked the real-life game, so passengers has to ask questions such as “Does he/she have blue eyes? Is he/she wearing a hat?” etc, in order to eliminate as many of the 24 people with one question.

Those participants who correctly named the mystery passenger after eliminating the impostors were given free flights with easyJet. Video of the event here and more images here.

After the airport event, the airline put a digital version of the ‘Guess Who’ game online (called Enigme A Bord by easyJet France) for 10 days, which was played over 2,500 times on the first day alone.

JetBlue creates a buzz with Twitter-driven ticket giveaway

Following the success of its Twitter ticket giveaway in New York City in March (2010), JetBlue just held a similar event in Boston. Celebrating its 10th anniversary the carrier tweeted several simple assingments during the day, together with the physical location of the JetBlue team somewhere in the city. People following the airline on Twitter that were first to show up after each tweet were given a free ticket.

In New York JetBlue asked people to bring them birthday cards on Broadway and Dey Street in the Financial District. After announcing it on Twitter, the airline said the first person arrived less than three minutes after the tweet. For round two, it asked people to wear something blue and bring an airplane-related item to University Place and 11th Street near Union Square. In Boston people had to bring a photo of 10 standard office supplies amongst other assignments. This video nicely captures the spirit on the street. In total JetBlue gave away 1,000 free tickets in New York and 600 in Boston.
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EasyJet and AirAsia expand their no-frills hotels

Low-cost airlines easyJet and AirAsia have both extended their no-frills concept to the hotel sector. Similar to low-cost airlines, easyHotel and TuneHotels.com are keeping rates low by offering limited service and a pay-as-you-use system for extra amenities such as towels. The no-frills hotels encourage guests to book online and the further people book their stay, the cheaper the room. With small, clean and modern rooms, they cater to those on a budget, and tourists who spend most of their time sightseeing. Says Tunehotels.com’s CEO, Mark Lankester: “[Our guests] appreciate being able to spend less on a room they will only really spend a few hours in, while still having peace of mind that they will be getting a good, safe night’s sleep at the end of a full day.” 

In August 2005, easyHotel opened its first property in London’s Earls Court and it just opened its 12th location in Berlin, and its next opening will be in Porto in summer 2010. The budget hotel will also unveil its first property outside Europe, in Dubai, later in 2010. Chargeable facilities including satellite TV, wifi, luggage storage and extra towels. The group now has six properties open in London (including hotels at Heathrow and Luton airports), as well as hotels in Basel, Zurich, Budapest, Sofia, and Cyprus. Room prices start at EUR 15 to 25 per night.
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