While most of the bad publicity around “rogue drones” comes from a perceived (and sometimes real) danger of interference between unmanned and manned aircraft, French company Donecle is proving that the manned aircraft industry can benefit from drone technology too.
We first saw a demonstration of airplane inspections by drones at the 2018 DJI Airworks conference. It’s a use case with tremendous potential return on investment, speeding up an expensive and time consuming process dramatically. Now that Donecle is ready to implement the service for the largest airline in South America, the safety and value will be proven on the tarmac – and will hopefully spread to airlines around the world. Having commercial drones safely implemented at airports could be a great move for commercial airlines and for the drone industry.
The following is from a Donecle press release.
Labège, France, December 20nd, 2019. Donecle announced today that LATAM Airlines Group, the largest airline in South America, will use its automated drone solution to improve the efficiency and reliability of aircraft visual inspections during base maintenance for their A320 fleet.
Following a successful 3-month trial period, LATAM decided to integrate Donecle’s solution in its São Carlos site, one of the company’s main base maintenance sites. The drone will be used for visual inspections during heavy checks.
“We are very proud to count LATAM as a new customer and expand our operations in South America“, says Josselin Bequet, CEO & Co-founder at Donecle. “The 3-month test was a key phase for LATAM to better understand the added-value of the drone and to anticipate the integration into their maintenance process. We are happy to now have the drone up and flying with LATAM and are committed to support them to make the most of the solution.”
The drone, which does not require a pilot thanks to its laser positioning technology, can automatically scan a narrowbody aircraft in less than one hour. In addition to time savings, the solution will improve safety conditions for LATAM’s workforce. The precise location of defects relative to the aircraft structure will help LATAM to optimise scheduling of repairs and job cards during checks.
The solution also contributes to a paperless process and to better traceability of inspections.
Ultimately both partners are looking at how to deploy the drone inspection solutions at other LATAM group sites, as well as to look for new potential use cases.
“This is a project that reinforces our pioneering approach in Latin America for the implementation of a brand new aircraft inspection method. It is a privilege having the opportunity to test this advanced technology, which has already helped us gain efficiency and elevated our Quality and Safety standards”, says Alexandre Peronti, Director of Maintenance at LATAM Airlines Brasil.
LATAM Airlines Group, headquarted in Santiago Chile is the largest Airline in Latin America with a fleet of more than 300 aircraft, including several models from the A320 family and 4 sites of maintenance.
Donecle is the leader of automated aircraft inspection by drone. Donecle is a French company located in Labege, France, founded in 2015 and with strong expertise in aircraft maintenance processes, drone robotics, automation and computer vision deep learning. Our technology combines 100% automated UAVs with advanced image analysis algorithms to inspect aircraft quickly and reliably. Donecle is committed to deliver high-standard services to customers through constant improvement and dedicated customer focus team. Our clients include airlines, MROs, aircraft OEMs and military operators around the World. Lean more here www.donecle.com
LATAM Airlines Group is Latin America’s leading airline group with one of the largest route networks in the world, offering services to 145 destinations in 26 countries, including six domestic markets in Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – in addition to international operations in Latin America, Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa and Asia. The airline group employs over 42,000 people worldwide, operating approximately 1,300 flights per day and transporting over 72 million passengers per year. LATAM Airlines Group has 327 aircraft in its fleet, which features the latest and most modern models including the Boeing 787, Airbus A350, A321 and A320neo.
LATAM Airlines Group is the only airline group in the Americas and one of three worldwide to be part of the Dow Jones Sustainability ‘World’ Index. In 2018, it was recognized by the index for sustainable practices, based on economic, social and environmental criteria, for the sixth consecutive year. LATAM Airlines Group shares are traded on the Santiago Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange in the form of ADRs. For any commercial or brand related query, visit www.latam.com. Further financial information is available via www.latamairlinesgroup.net.