“…Last year, Commercial UAV News spoke with Mainblades about looking into making a presentable use case for outdoor applications. A lot has happened since then, and the company has now performed the first European fully automated outdoor airport drone inspection of a commercial aircraft at an active airfield in Woensdrecht, Netherlands.
To validate the increasing interest for outdoor airport drone inspections, Mainblades, in cooperation with Fokker Techniek, Truenoord, and the Dutch Drone Centre / Aviolanda, used its M300 drone solution to inspect an Airbus A330. Typically, aircraft inspections require inspectors on-site to check that all the damages and repairs of the aircraft are correctly recorded in the damaged and repair mapping report. This becomes problematic with bigger aircraft as it can be hard to take a good look on top of it, including the wings or the tail. With a drone, this process becomes much easier since a drone can fly around the aircraft to find damages and take pictures that show more than can be seen with the naked eye.
Currently, Mainblades is still primarily performing indoor drone inspections, but this is the first step toward developing and modernizing aircraft maintenance services. Outdoor inspections allow the reservation of hangar space for heavy-duty maintenance and scheduled inspections, while light inspections can be done in front of the hangar, on parking spots, or at the gate in the future, massively reducing the time spent for unscheduled maintenance. This holds great potential for shorter turnaround times and fewer overall aircraft movements (towings) at the airport.