Vienna, Austria - Austrian Airlines inspects the airframes of its Airbus planes with an autonomous drone for structural damage.
Drones are a big problem for airports and airlines, but a European carrier uses it for a good reason.
Austrian Airlines is examining the exterior of its Airbus planes for structural deterioration via a drone developed by French startup Donecle.
The technology is very new and will be tested by the end of this year. If successful, the drone has the potential to become a permanent member of the airlines' engineering teams in the future.
An ordinary airframe inspection lasts around between four and ten hours. Donecle's autonomous drone performs this important job in less than two hours and helps to reduce the workload of the technicians.
Thanks to this quick job, planes return to the service earlier than before.
The drone flies autonomously around the aircraft and takes high-resolution images. When this process completed, special software developed exclusively for this job analyzes the images and automatically flags anything that may require a closer examination.
Technicians also can check the images in detail via a tablet.
Austrian Airlines uses the new drone technology on its 36 Airbus A320 in the fleet. The company is planning to include other aircraft types in the process.
British low-cost carrier EasyJet had also experimented drone inspections with a different tech company several years ago. Last year, Airbus also unveiled a drone system as part of its “Hangar of the Future” initiative that aims to bring new technologies together for aircraft inspection.