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MRO: Donecle's inspection zones pick up speed

Romain Guillot
14/11/2019 | 717 words
MRO: Donecle's inspection zones pick up speed
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The Donecle's booth is always a bit hit at each aviation event, and the last two MRO exhibitions organised in Singapore and London were no exception. It has to be said that there are a whole host of benefits in using the Toulouse company's drones for automated maintenance inspections and it seems to be a matter of fact that this activity has a wonderful future ahead of it over the coming years, as it is accepted by the different aviation authorities.

Things have seemed to be moving quickly for Donecle over the last few months, with the recent announcements about Austrian in September or the U.S. MRO company AAR in October. Donecle was also one of the 13 finalists in the "Hangar 51" initiative from IAG (International Airlines Group) to reward innovation, following the testing of its solution at Iberia and Vueling in Spain.

For Austrian, Hélène Druet, Donecle's Head Of Marketing explains to us that the Austrian airline was particularly interested in the solution for its lightning damage searches. "We worked on the algorithms a great deal to improve auto-detection and we are now enable to define or isolate probable impact zones", she tells us, reminding us that it generally takes between 8 and 10 hours using traditional methods to inspect an aircraft which has been struck by lightning, time which may be divided by a factor of 10 with the Donecle solution.

"Lightning strikes are clearly the area which provides the most value for airlines, because it's an issue of major direct and indirect costs for their operations", she adds, quoting the example of typical AOG costs for a narrow-body aircraft of around 10000 dollars per hour. Hélène Druet also reminded us that on average commercial aircraft are struck by lightning twice per year, with some geographical regions more at risk than others. "For Austrian, it's a huge problem in Vienna in the summer, and this is a usage case that the airline really wants to explore with us", she adds. She announced that Donecle and Austrian have also set up a technical partnership to extend the solution's capabilities to Embraer's E-Jet family, and the Austrian airline's E195s in particular. Even better, with Austrian, Hélène Druet notes that Donecle now has a way into the Lufthansa Group, which could also generate new opportunities in some of the group's other maintenance activities.

Hélène Druet also talked about the agreement they signed with AAR a few days before the MRO Europe exhibition, as the MRO company has decided to equip its Miami facilities with Donecle's drones to inspect A320s and 737s. She also explained that for now the solution remains dedicated to single-aisle aircraft, although this could soon change. "We are working in parallel to adapt our platform to wide-body aircraft, where the solution will be even more relevant in relation to the dimensions of these planes", she states. Donecle's Head Of Marketing also emphasised that the company is continuing to experiment in the military sector, in particular with Dassault Aviation on the Rafale and with Air France Industries (AFI KLM E&M) for inspections on the French Air Force's E-3 Sentry fleet (AWACS).

Hélène Druet goes on, telling us that Donecle is continuing to improve its algorithms to make them more reliable and higher performing, for example in paintwork evaluation. "We remain focused on what airlines and MROs need, but we are also in discussions with other actors, for example to optimise re-painting intervals, which are highly sequenced these days", she notes.

Created in 2015, Donecle now employs over twenty people across the missions departments (drone flight), but above all the imaging - algorithms - artificial intelligence departments, and of course in training. "We don't sell the drone as such, we sell a service which covers the drone, analysis software and on-site team training, so that these teams can carry out their inspections on their own, both for line maintenance and for heavy maintenance", explains Hélène Druet. And she is delighted to say: "We also have many more customers in demonstration or testing, and we hope to be able to announce them soon".

Picture © Donecle

Romain Guillot
Chief editor
Cofounder of Journal de l'Aviation and Alertavia

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