AFI KLM E&M Bullish On Drones, Moving Rapidly On Mobility

Drone tested at AFI KLM E&M
Credit: AFI KLM E&M

Global MROs are usually in the forefront of innovating with new MRO technologies. For example, AFI KLM E&M experimented with Donecle drones for aircraft inspections several years ago and sees progress in this new technology, according to innovation director James Kornberg. “The drone is able to fly autonomously and detect some of the defects using a computer vision artificial intelligence algorithm,” Kornberg says. “There are still some limitations, especially on widebody aircraft, but we see positive results in an automatic inspection process.”

The MRO has identified several use cases for drone inspections, for example after lightning strikes, in checking paint quality and in other inspections. “The great thing is that all the use cases can be done with the same flight,” Kornberg says.

Meanwhile, AFI KLM E&M is moving vigorously forward with mobile solutions. More than 3,000 iPads have been issued to mechanics at both Air France and KLM. “They have access to aircraft documentation and our ERP systems such as Maintenix on the aircraft,” Kornberg explains. Mechanics can also get mobile access to specialized apps at a dedicated app store.

For example, AFI KLM E&M mechanics are now using a special cabin app to identify cabin defects and find the right part number in the component maintenance manuals with a few clicks on their iPads. “We want them to be productive with hands on the metal and remote access to information they need,” Kornberg says.

The MRO is developing the new mobile features and apps using what Kornberg calls “design thinking” to make sure these meet mechanics’ needs. “New intuitive and user-friendly apps connected to the backend ERP are being developed to make their life easier and provide all necessary data in real time to better maintain aircraft and engines.”

Kornberg says AFI KLM E&M has been working on electronic tech logs for years and has done some experiments with ETLs. But the technology is complicated as many different departments are concerned. “It is not an easy topic as the technology was not mature enough, and the business case has always been challenging.” The AFI KLM E&M exec says he knows of major airlines that adopted ETLs and then went back to paper. “Still, we are very confident that both on Air France and KLM fleets some electronic tech logs will be live in 2020.”