ST Engineering receives regulatory approval for its in-house developed drone solution, DroScan to carry out General Visual Inspection (GVI) during aircraft maintenance at its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in Singapore.
The approval was granted to ST Engineering’s Aerospace division (ST Aero) by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). This is the first authorisation granted by CAAS for the use of unmanned aerial systems to perform GVI on Singapore-registered aircraft. With this authorisation, ST Engineering can apply its DroScan solution on approved aircraft models such as the Airbus A320 family.
An end-to-end aircraft external general inspection solution, ST Aero says DroScan leverages automation and smart analytics capabilities to bring about higher efficiency and increased workplace safety during aircraft maintenance work.
The Group has been conducting trials to demonstrate its capabilities over the last year with participating airline customers including Air New Zealand.
By using drones to physically carry out visual inspections, DroScan eliminates the need to set up bulky ground equipment such as boom-lifts and work stands for inspectors to climb up and down during manual inspections. Inspectors can instead conduct indirect GVI using live video feed and post-flight images captured by the drones. Captured images can be fed through algorithms that detect and classify defects to assist the inspectors in the review process.
“DroScan combines ST Engineering’s expertise in MRO, unmanned solutions and engineering skills to enhance the way we carry out aircraft inspection and maintenance in a safe and efficient manner,” says Lim Serh Ghee, president of Aerospace, ST Engineering.
“This is one of the many initiatives that we will roll out progressively to digitally transform our hangars and facilities into a smarter environment, which will allow our customers to better enjoy value-added services such as up-to-speed or even real time update of their aircraft maintenance progress.”
In addition to smart analytics capability, DroScan is incorporated with safety features that could allow for future operations within Singapore’s civil aerodromes. These features include precise localisation system to navigate in GPS-denied environment, power tethered system for extended flight duration and controlled safety template, multiple sensors for obstacles detection and geo-fencing to prevent the drone from straying out of flight template.
“CAAS is excited by ST Engineering’s efforts to use unmanned aerial systems to perform visual inspections on Singapore-registered aircraft,” adds Kevin Shum, director-general of CAAS. “We commend ST Engineering on this initiative to leverage digital technology to enhance productivity and effectiveness in its operations.”
Shum adds that technology-driven innovations are in line with the regulator’s vision to digitally transform the aviation industry. “Especially, in this current COVID-19 environment, we hope to see an impetus for more of such novel solutions from our Singapore aviation companies”,
Moving forward, ST Engineering aims to extend the application of DroScan to more aircraft models, including widebody platforms, as well as develop new robotic solutions for inspections that involve contact-based measurements.