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Korean Air demonstrates world's first drone-based aircraft symmetry check solution

By Park Sae-jin Posted : December 16, 2021, 16:11 Updated : December 16, 2021, 16:17

[Courtesy of Korean Air]

SEOUL -- South Korea's flag carrier Korean Air has demonstrated an unprecedented aircraft symmetry check solution using a platoon of specially designed drones. The new system has the potential to change the paradigm of the airplane hull check method that requires human workers to examine the integrity of the body of airplanes. It will reduce the maintenance time by about 60 percent.
The symmetry and alignment check process is one of the most important pre-flight checks done on an aircraft to make sure an aircraft's airframe is in the right shape. Human investigators use special optical equipment and mobile lifting platforms to examine the body of the airplane. Workers have to check places that are about 20 meters (65 feet) high.
Korean Air demonstrated its airframe check solution with four drones at a hangar bay located in its headquarters in western Seoul on December 16. The solution minimizes the maintenance time and reduces the risk of safety accidents. The company said it takes about four hours for the drone system to thoroughly check an airplane, compared to ten hours by human workers.
Drones designed by the carrier weigh about 5.5 kilograms (12.1 pounds) each and they are about one meter wide and one meter tall. The maintenance drones hooked onto a control tower system will fly in designated areas to examine the airframe using optical devices. The camera is capable of detecting offsets of about one millimeter. If a drone fails to operate, other drones will cover the area designated for the inoperable drone.
The analytic data is shared via a cloud system that can be accessible by Korean Air employees including flight engineers and other related personnel. The drone maintenance system will be officially deployed in 2022, Korean Air said.

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