SINGAPORE (June 17): Air New Zealand will use drones to carry out inspection checks of its aircraft when they undergo heavy maintenance checks at its facility near Changi Airport – with some help from ST Engineering’s Aerospace.

DroScan, an unmanned drone system developed by ST Engineering, will deploy a drone take a planned route around the outside of an aircraft to inspect its surface and produce high definition images.

These images are processed using software with smart algorithms to detect and classify defects, which aircraft engineers can then either review and confirm, or carry out further inspection for defects if required.

Air New Zealand Chief Ground Operations Officer Carrie Hurihanganui says the airline is committed to exploring new and innovative ways of operating its business – including in the aircraft engineering space.

“We have trialed using DroScan on a number of our aircrafts undergoing maintenance inspections in Singapore now and we believe that using a drone will also help improve inspection quality. In future, there may be an opportunity to use the device in New Zealand, for example to conduct ad hoc inspections after lightning strikes,” she said.

According to Jeffrey Lam, deputy president of ST Engineering’s aerospace sector, the partnership allows the companies to explore the full potential of drone technology to improve maintenance work.

“We believe solutions such as DroScan will drive great value for the aviation industry given the huge emphasis it places on safety and efficiency, and we look forward to using it to great effects after we have completed the trials successfully with Air New Zealand,” says Lam.

Beyond DroScan, Air New Zealand and ST Engineering are looking to collaborate on more initiatives such as manufacturing a growing number of 3D printed replacement interior parts, and data analytics to optimise maintenance activities. 

As at 2.51pm, shares in ST Engineering at trading at $4.08.