Snakes on a plane are bad news if you’re Samuel L. Jackson, but they’re good news if they can help fix an old airplane without having to tear it apart.

The Remote Access Nondestructive Evaluation, or RANDE, system is a snake-like robotic arm tool that fits into small spaces of an aircraft to perform inspections.

Maintainers usually have to remove whatever hard-to-reach component of the aircraft they need to inspect and then crawl inside the small area.

The remote-controlled RANDE, however, serves as an airman’s eyes as it moves around inside the aircraft, eliminating the need to take the aircraft apart.

The robotic arm can manuever through access ports as small as 3 inches in diameter.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio demonstrated RANDE during the Air Force Association conference this week. The system manuevered through an A-10 wing and used sensors and cameras to display images on the reseachers’ laptops.

Using RANDE can save maintainers about 29 hours in inspection time, said Charles Buynak, the lab’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate senior program manager.

The robot is currently a prototype and is ready for the program office to request exact specifications for use on certain aircraft.

Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at

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