Germany’s national airline carrier announced that it would explore ways to integrate drone use into its business model. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the carrier may delve into drone pilot training and UAV maintenance as new market opportunities.
Spohr told the Financial Times that the company has “considerable know-how” in the sector and “already has a large pilot training operation and is certified to service and repair aircraft around the globe.”
A company source later told FT that Lufthansa is not planning to offer any cargo or passenger flights using pilot-less technology but may use drones for airframe inspection.
The carrier’s technical services division Lufthansa Technik is already testing mobile robotic drone crawler to inspect aircraft for potential fuselage damage. Equipped with thermographic inspection units, the crablike robots will, according to a Technik report, “move past pre-programmed points of the outer skin of the aircraft fuselage and takes just a short time to examine this for damage or defects (in this case, cracks).”
Airlines are starting to envision more benefits in using drone technology for inspection and support. Last year, British airline EasyJet announced plans to install a system of drones to help engineers with the inspection and assessment of the company’s fleet of Airbus A319 and A320 planes.
“We have examined and assessed cutting edge technology across many different industries and are now applying a range of new technologies to the aviation sector for the first time to help us run our fleet of aircraft more effectively, efficiently and safely,” EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said.
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