Austrian Airlines relies on innovative drone technology for aircraft inspections

September 18, 2019

At Austrian Airlines Technik we are constantly looking for solutions to optimize our processes. We are currently testing various operational scenarios for an autonomous flying drone. These include lightning strike inspections, checks for the presence of stickers, checks of the aircraft’s paint finish as well as the detection of structural damage, such as scratches or dents. A lightning strike generally poses no danger to the aircraft or passengers. you hardly notice. But a routine inspection is carried out to detect any damage that might have occurred. Before the drone takes off, certain key parameters must be entered in the system. These include the height of the aircraft at 4 points and its condition at the current time. This allows maintenance times to be reduced to 2 hours and provides precise data on the type position of damage. We expect that instead of the currently required 4-10 inspection hours, only 2 hours will be needed. The procedure of the drone inspection starts with the aircraft entering the hangar then the drone completes the task within 1 hour. Afterwards the obtained data will be analysed using various software solutions. The software then displays the exact position of the damage on the aircraft. A certified technician examines it on a tablet or directly on the aircraft to make the final decision. Currently we only use the drone at our home base in Vienna. Together with the French manufacturer we want to further develop the product, In the first step, we want to integrate our Embraer fleet alongside to our Airbus fleet. In the long-term, an expansion to our long-haul fleet and outstations has to be explored.

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