COVID-19 Drives Virtual Engine Inspections

MROs like Lufthansa Technik has seen the number of remote engine table inspections surge since the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Credit: Lufthansa Technik

Long before COVID-19 was a term in the public consciousness, digitization across the commercial aftermarket was much on the increase.

Driven by a desire for greater operation efficiency, adoption of new technologies has been widespread; encompassing everything from paperless aircraft maintenance in the form of digitized records to drawing on big data analytics to better determine repair outcomes have been increasingly explored and developed.

The global nature of the commercial aviation industry has also driven an increase in remote video communication being used on maintenance tasks. Given the increasingly sophisticated mobile technology of the world along with greater day-to-day Wi-fi speeds, this has moved forward at pace and is set to continue to do so with the gradual rollout of 5G internet, which has allowed greater clarity and image quality.

Constraints on by the COVID-19 pandemic in aviation in areas such as travel restrictions and the encouragement of home working, along with social distancing among on-site employees, other MROs with engine capabilities have also started to offer remote services. 

These include other airline affiliated MROs such as AFI KLM E&M, independent specialists such as GA Telesis Engine Services introducing remote table inspections at its Helsinki facility and Aero Norway, the Stavanger-based engine overhaul which focuses on CFM56 family engines, successfully completing its first remote table inspection with a customer.

In response to the novel coronavirus crisis, Luthansa Technik looked to further expand offerings to cost-conscious airline customers on its open-source data-sharing platform Aviatar.

Among these included the introduction a video conferencing feature for an aircraft cabin walk and virtual engine table and borescope inspection tasks, communicated through its MRO Management application on the platform.

The idea of ramping up its remote collaboration offering on engines was primarily driven by logistical challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus, according to Wiebke Hubert, engineer innovation and product development engine service at Lufthansa Technik.

“We wanted to give customers the opportunity to stay at home during the table inspection event because it’s a lot of work to coordinate other people and the whole engine often isn’t at the same shop and has to travel between other facilities,” she says.

To read more about some of the virtual engine inspection work taking place in 2020, read the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2021.

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's European MRO editor, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.