Drones news

Avianca develops autonomous drone for airliners

Avianca develops autonomous drone for airliners
Avianca develops autonomous drone for airliners. Avianca is internally
<div style="background:rgb(249, 249, 249); border:0px; padding:0px"> <p><strong>Avianca&nbsp;is internally developing an autonomous drone to inspect grounded aircraft for damage caused by lightning and bird strikes, the low-cost Latin American carrier says.</strong></p> <p><strong>Unlike other airlines that have partnered with drone makers,&nbsp;Avianca&nbsp;plans to develop the drone and navigation system internally with a provisional schedule of launching operations next year, says Jose Ospina, a maintenance engineer for the Star Alliance carrier.</strong></p> <p>Ospina demonstrated a prototype flying drone on 28 September during a press tour of a newly-opened maintenance hangar in Rionegro, Colombia.</p> <p>The quad-rotor drone with unshrouded blades and equipped with a GoPro camera was developed within&nbsp;Avianca&nbsp;for maintenance inspection applications.</p> <p><img alt="Asset Image" src="https://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getasset.aspx?itemid=68447" style="margin:0px" /></p> <p>A follow-on design will encase each of the four rotors in a protective shroud to shield the blades from causing damage, Ospina says.</p> <p>Inside a busy hangar with three&nbsp;Avianca&nbsp;aircraft parked inside, Ospina navigated the drone during the demonstration using a hand controller with a wireless link. The final design will shroud the blades of each rotor with a protective ring, possibly made of foam, he says.</p> <p>The navigation system for the final version also will change. Instead of manual control, the drone will navigate by itself.</p> <p>&ldquo;In the end it will be completely autonomous,&rdquo; Ospina says.</p> <p>Avianca&nbsp;is developing a system that uses ultrasonic beacons to develop a three-dimensional view of the environment. The drone&rsquo;s software will use that geometric model to determine the location of the aircraft relative to itself.</p> <p>EasyJet&nbsp;pioneered rising airline interest in using drones for basic visual inspections of aircraft, but the European low-cost carrier partnered with drone developer Blue Bear to design the system. Airbus also demonstrated a drone inspection system during the Farnborough air show.</p> </div>