Thanks to its extensive experience in manned and unmanned aerial vehicle development, Korean Air has developed drone swamps that can inspect the aircraft. The Korean company held a demonstration on 16 December at the airline headquarters’ hangar to showcase its latest aircraft inspection technology using multiple drones. This innovation is expected to provide more accurate inspections in a shorter time, increase operational stability, as well as improve workplace safety. Previously, maintenance specialists had to perform visual checks of the aircraft fuselage from heights of up to 20 meters.
The drone is one meter width and one meter height, and it weighs 5.5 kg. The aircraft fuselage will be inspected using a swamp of four drones at the same time. Korean Air’s inspection technology is the first in the world to utilize multiple drones simultaneously. Additionally, the company has created an operations program that allows the drones to take photos of pre-planned areas. In case one of the drones does not successfully complete the operation, the system automatically completes the mission using one of the remaining drones.
The use of four drones simultaneously can significantly reduce the inspection time. A visual inspection of about 10 hours can be reduced to four hours: A substantial improvement of on-time flight operations. Furthermore, the drones are equipped with high-performance cameras that are able to identify objects up to 1 mm in size. This feature allows the drones to detect small defects that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Korean Air shares inspection data through the cloud and has also applied a collision avoidance system and geo-fencing to keep safety distances from surrounding facilities and prevent break-aways from the mission area.