Dr. Sunjoo Advani

Dr. Sunjoo Advani, President, International Development of Technology B.V.

Dr. Sunjoo Advani is an aerospace engineer with 35 years of experience in flight simulation development and president of the company International Development of Technology B.V. from The Netherlands. Previously, an assistant professor in the Aerospace Department at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, his research focused on pilot-vehicle interactions and manual flying. In 2009, he founded the International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE), which defined the requirements for Upset Prevention and Recovery Training. These are embodied in ICAO Manual 10011, and recent regulations, including EASA. Currently, he supports several airlines in developing their UPRT programs and applying UPRT to their pilots and instructors.

Automated Aircraft Inspections: From Operator to Supervisor

The requirement for aircraft inspections following a lightning strike are prescribed by the OEM’s. Traditional visual inspections take place in a hangar by maintenance technicians, a manual and time-consuming process. Differences in technician experience and perception can lead to inconsistent reporting and qualification of possible damage.

Reliable inspections using robotics technology and imaging software can increase the quality and consistency of damage reports. The use of aerial drones enables this, while also increasing time-efficiency. When the drone is operated manually, human error can lead to collisions with the aircraft and substantial damage of the aircraft body, wing and control surfaces. To mitigate the risk, drone inspections are flown at a significant safe distance from the aircraft. However, this decreases the accuracy of the sensors and cameras onboard.

Mainblades is a Dutch tech company and has enabled fully automated drone inspections for aircraft. The technology offers a complete automation of the inspection process, from autonomous flight, to damage detection, data assessment and reporting – within a fraction of the time required for a manual inspection.

While the drone performs the inspection, the human aircraft inspector is not fully replaced. There will be a task shift from aircraft inspector or drone operator towards monitoring of the flight and inspection process (supervisor). During a monitoring task, it is challenging to remain in the loop, especially when there are limited instruments to monitor the drone flight and flight path. When a flight issue occurs and the supervisor has to intervene, the unexpected shift from a monitoring task to taking action can be off-setting and time-critical, causing a sudden increase of workload and stress.

In this presentation, we will identify the challenges of using automated drones for aircraft inspections and present the requirements and tools for training the specific skills.