France: a call for projects for the automation of aircraft inspection

Following the call for projects, around twenty applications were received. The initiative aims to provide innovative solutions to improve maintenance. Aircraft maintenance requires regular inspection of its coatings as well as regular checks on the integrity of the internal structure of certain critical points by means of so-called "non-destructive testing" operations. These are time-consuming and potentially dangerous tasks for operators.

Follow Air Recognition on Google News at this link

France a call for projects for the automation of aircraft inspection 01 Two companies were selected to meet expectations (Picture source: Ministère des Armées)

Thus, the call for projects "automation of non-destructive testing" was launched in July 2019 by the Defense Innovation Agency, through the Innovation Defense Lab. It is also a partnership with the Directorate of Aeronautical Maintenance, the Directorate General of Armaments and the Air and Space Force. The aim of the approach was to offer innovative solutions in order to reduce the duration and improve the quality of maintenance operations.

About twenty applications were received. Subsequently, two companies were selected to develop, in a little over a year, a demonstrator, in close collaboration with the competent technical teams of the armed forces.

Selected projects:

- DONECLE, in partnership with 8tree and Dassault, offers automatic 3D inspection of aircraft coatings using a 100% automated drone. This technique makes it possible to detect and measure surface defects such as indentations, impacts or perforations. Tested on metal and composite surfaces, the solution also allows comparisons with the digital model of the aircraft and digital monitoring of the development of faults.

- ROBOPLANET, offers a semi-autonomous robot for non-destructive ultrasonic testing, which automatically scans predefined areas, with the assistance of software for implementing and monitoring acquisitions. This semi-autonomous robot allows automatic detection of defects in the heart of the part and the format of the data generated ensures digital continuity with the software in place for generating inspection reports.

France a call for projects for the automation of aircraft inspection 02 Aircraft maintenance requires regular inspections (Picture source: Ministère des Armées)

The demonstrations took place on June 9 on the BA 118 in Mont-de-Marsan and particularly attracted the interest of users. These tests made it possible to highlight the conditions of use that could be envisaged by the forces. They brought together a quorum of experts of specialists and potential users from the armed forces, the DGA, the DMAé, the Industrial Service of Aeronautics, the Integrated Structure for the maintenance in operational condition of land equipment but also from the aeronautics industry.

The final restitution of this call for projects took place on July 7 at the Innovation Defense Lab, making it possible to take stock of both the substance and the form of this project. It brought together around DONECLE and ROBOPLANET those who will be in charge of imagining how these technologies can be acquired and integrated into maintenance operations.