itb-nz logo
Story image

Air NZ recruits drones for aircraft maintenance checks

18 Jun 2019

Air New Zealand will now use drones to inspect its aircraft fleet as they undergo heavy maintenance checks in Singapore.

In partnership with ST Engineering, the drones will help to inspect parts of the aircraft that aren’t usually accessible and note any repairs that need to be made.

ST Engineering’s aerospace arm is a service provider that concentrates on maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft. It will conduct the checks at its facility next to Singapore’s Changi Airport.

ST Engineering created a drone system called DroScan, which is an unmanned drone system. It is able to follow a planned route around the outside of an aircraft to inspect the surface and take HD images. Algorithms then process the images to detect and categorise defects, which can then be reviewed by aircraft engineers. 

“Using a drone to inspect our aircraft will save time, taking around one to two hours, compared to up to six – depending on aircraft type – which means repairs can start sooner if needed, and our aircraft will be able to get back in the air more quickly,” says Air New Zealand’s chief ground operations officer, Carrie Hurihanganui.

“We’ve trialed using DroScan on a number of our aircraft undergoing maintenance inspections in Singapore now and believe using a drone will also help improve inspection quality.”

ST Engineering Aerospace sector deputy president Jeffrey Lam says, “Incorporating innovative technologies into aviation MRO holds great potential in enhancing the way aircraft get serviced.”

“We are happy to be working with our like-minded partner, Air New Zealand which shares the same motivation and belief as us in exploring the full potential of technologies to improve maintenance work.”

“We believe solutions such as DroScan will drive great value for the aviation industry given the huge emphasis it places on safety and efficiency, and we look forward to using it to great effects after we have completed the trials successfully with Air New Zealand.”

Hurihanganui adds that there’s potential to use the drones and DroScan in New Zealand to conduct inspections after events such as lightning strikes.

Air New Zealand and ST Engineering are also collaborating to manufacture 3D printed replacement interior parts, and in data analytics to optimise maintenance activities.

"Being able to 3D print certain components on the go would be transformative and drive significant efficiencies and sustainability benefits,” says Hurihanganui.

“Rather than having the cost associated with purchasing, shipping and storing physical parts and potentially having to fly an aircraft with an unavailable seat, this system would allow us to print a part when and where we need it in hours.”

Story image
5 ways to use data science to predict security issues - Forcepoint
Data science enables people to respond to problems in a better way, and to also understand those problems in a way that would not have been possible 50 years ago.More
Story image
Blue Prism extends human-to-digital worker collaboration with new Interact capability
Blue Prism Interact is a human-to-digital worker collaboration capability that enables employees to team up with digital workers to initiate, instruct, verify, receive, and authorise a variety of business processes through the digital workforce.More
Link image
Track, analyse, act: The e-commerce metrics you need
E-commerce technology leaders need to track, analyze, and act on large volumes of business and system performance data. Danny Miles, the CTO of Dollar Shave Club, shares a powerful framework for thinking about and prioritizing e-commerce metrics.More
Story image
Gartner: Security leaders must balance risk, trust and opportunity
Security and risk leaders must focus on balancing risk, trust and opportunity to help maintain the ability of their organisations to function.More
Link image
How to better protect your organisation's most valuable asset - its data.
Data resilience strategies are becoming increasingly critical in relation to the skyrocketing value of data and the proliferation of malicious entities wishing to steal it.More
Story image
AI in the finance sector - and how it will revolutionise banking
With the bar to success set so much higher amid lockdowns, innovation is almost essential, and one of the clearest paths to innovating a business model is through AI.More