Aircraft maintenance firm AAR adopts automated inspection drone


Aviation maintenance provider AAR has become the first such company in the USA to use French company’s Donecle’s inspection drone in its operations.

AAR´s Miami MRO facility is using the fully automated drone technology to visually inspect aircraft for damage such as Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s in less than an hour. AAR is also the first company to use the drone operationally on Boeing 737

The drone is able to detect aircraft structural damage, as well as assess paint quality, markings and signs of lightning strike. One complete scan by a drone covers the equivalent of several maintenance tasks and personnel, conserving significant time and resources in the inspection and overall maintenance turnaround time.

The companies have agreed on an initial 12-month trial period for the inspection drones and upon further assessment and results, will expand the platform to other MRO facilities. In compliance with the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration requirements, AAR staff are still performing manual aircraft inspections in addition to the drone inspections.

Rahul Ghai, AAR’s chief digital officer said, “In exploring opportunities to increase efficiencies and best use of our workforce, we continually assess opportunities to digitally enable our businesses. In the case of our MRO sites, our investments in technologies like drones, machine learning and mobile devices will drive more efficient operation, optimized technician schedules, as well as improved turnaround times achieved through faster and more accurate inspections and maintenance plan execution.”

Josselin Bequet, Donecle’s CEO and co-founder said, “We are very proud to support AAR in its innovations to better serve its customers and keep its position as the leading independent MRO worldwide, while also contributing to AAR´s digital transformation.

AAR offers services to civil and military organizations and has centers in 20 countries around the world. Donecle, which is located in Labege, France was founded in 2015 to develop 100% automated UAVs with advanced image analysis algorithms to inspect aircraft

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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