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Towards dent measurement by drone

By 28. July 2021September 9th, 2021Automation, dentCHECK, Insights

« Can you make dentCHECK fly? »

This is a question which our customers and prospects ask on a regular basis. Dent damage is a chronic and recurring problem on aircraft, due to loading operations, hail-storms, bird strikes, etc.. But detecting, measuring and precisely locating such damage is a long and challenging process, which can be risky for inspectors working at height. As an example, on an annual basis, hail strikes affect 25% of the worldwide fleet and requires dozens of hours of inspection. How can the manual process of dent characterization be improved?

Aircraft hit by a hail strike, courtesy of ©The Aviation Herald

In this context, a drone seems an obvious solution.

However, embedding dentCHECK on a drone is not an easy thing to do and requires intense development.

So, the question came up – Who can we collaborate with to make dentCHECK flying?

We identified Donecle as our launch partner to realize the vision of a flying dentCHECK. Donecle as the leader of automated aircraft visual inspection has a strong expertise in drone robotics, automation and aircraft maintenance processes.

After initial tests, we accelerated our collaboration under the approval of the DGA, working together with Dassault on Rafale inspections.

Working on next generation of automated drones for aircraft inspections

The solution features Donecle’s automated drone which will scan targeted areas where risks of dents are well known (such as doors, leading edge, HTP, tail…). The acquired 3D scan data will then be sent into our damage reporting tool which will automatically map and measure dents and generate an SRM-compliant report.

Typical use cases include inspection after hail strike or after hard contact during in-flight refueling for military aircraft; dent measurement around doors which are subject to impacts during loading and unloading operations; inspection of dents and depth defects during aircraft manufacturing, and any other dent inspection in areas difficult to access.

This new unique solution will enable much faster inspections, bring better accuracy thanks to the precise location of the dents relative to the aircraft structure, improve safety of workers (no need to climb on upper surfaces and dangerous areas) and contribute to a paperless process.

The question which is on everyone’s lips is of course: when will it be available? We are making good progress and after recent promising lab tests we conducted the first field-tests on aircraft, before larger deployment 2021.

So, stay tuned, we will soon officially announce the availability of this new product!

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