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Aircraft are inspected visually on a regular basis to ensure their airworthiness. Scheduled and unscheduled visual inspections are always a long, time-consuming process, access to upper areas is challenging and repeatability as well as traceability of inspections are limited. Drones have been playing a growing role in these inspection missions. A number of airlines have found that these unmanned aircraft can help mitigate costs and reduce the time spent on maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft.

Donecle offers a solution to inspect aircraft 10 times faster than current inspections methods. 

LATAM Airlines Group, the largest airline in South America, will use Donecle’s 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, according to suasnews.com.

LATAM has a fleet of more than 300 aircraft, including several models from the A320 family and 4 sites of maintenance.

Thanks to its laser technology, the drone does not require any pilot or GPS signal and can scan the aircraft surface automatically. Images are integrated and analysed in the software to generate reports for various types of inspections. Data is stored and reported from past inspections on the company’s cloud platform to build digital history.

The unmanned aircraft 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 optimize the scheduling of repairs and job cards during checks.

The drone solution is based on Donecle’s expertise in aircraft maintenance processes, drone robotics, automation and computer vision deep learning. Its technology combines 100% automated UAVs with advanced image analysis algorithms to inspect aircraft quickly and reliably. 

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 solution in the other sites of LATAM group as well as to look for new potential use cases.