Since the middle of the year, Austrian Airlines aircraft are checked for paintwork or structural damage by means of autonomous drones developed by the French start-up “Donecle”.
This innovation not only reduces the workload for technicians, but the shorter duration of the checks lasting less than two hours instead of the previous time required of four to ten hours enables quicker availability of the aircraft.
The fully autonomous drone will be tested until the end of the year. Under the supervision of an aircraft technician, the drone implements inspections on the exterior of the aircraft in the hangar by means of a state-of-the-art, patented laser technology. The system flies autonomously, from take-off to landing to inspect all areas of the aircraft. The drone takes a high-resolution image every second. The accompanying software automatically identifies damage to the structure and paintwork of the aircraft. The aircraft technician has the possibility to examine the damage in detail on his tablet and generate a report for the maintenance team. However, the final decision is made by the certified aircraft technician.
Austrian Airlines serves as a test case within the Lufthansa Group and is further developing the technology together with “Donecle”.