North American Aftermarket Accelerates Digital Damage Inspections

Credit: 8tree

An influx of airlines and MRO specialists in North America have recently turned to digital technology for aircraft damage mapping as the industry moves into recovery. U.S. regional carrier Horizon Air has just implemented 8tree’s handheld dentCHECK tool in its fleet maintenance, following on from the tool’s adoption by Canadian MRO KF Aerospace and U.S. cargo carrier Kalitta Air earlier this year.

“With dentCHECK, Horizon is able to quickly and accurately map dents and release aircraft back into the operation safely,” says Archie Vega, director of line maintenance at Horizon Air. “dentCHECK allows us to quickly assess and map dents in a fraction of the time it would take to hand map.”

The airline has just taken delivery of its first dentCHECK tool at its Portland facilities, and Vega says it will “advance our capability into the future as we start to expand dentCHECK use to other Horizon maintenance locations.”

Meanwhile, aerospace and defense technology provider L3Harris has officially implemented dentCHECK at its aircraft missionization center in Greenville, Texas, where it supports military aircraft. It has been trialing the technology for three years to improve the efficiency and quality of its aircraft damage mapping activities.

According to Arun Chhabra, CEO of 8tree, its technology is seeing growing demand in military aviation, with numerous allied air forces already using dentCHECK to maintain military aircraft. “We’re now pursuing and ensuring that we try to empower our own Air Force with the capabilities that their peers are already using globally,” adds Chhabra.

Last month, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University became the first Part 147 school to integrate dentCHECK into its aviation maintenance curriculum and Chhabra says there is a pipeline of other schools that have expressed interest in trying out the technology.

Chhabra says the growing momentum of dentCHECK in North America is partially due to the industry restarting technology initiatives it paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are getting back into maintaining their fleets and wanting to get operations back up and running,” says Chhabra. The pandemic also accelerated the aviation industry’s realization that digitalization was needed in MRO, he adds. Previously, companies might have talked about the necessity of digital technologies, “but in hindsight it almost amounted to lip service that organizations wanted to go digital. But COVID-19 has really shaken things up a bit and it’s been a wake-up call,” he says.

The dent-mapping technology will be displayed in action at MRO Americas this month in Dallas, where it will be used during an airframe damage inspection event at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, which 8tree is co-sponsoring with Alaska Airlines. Technicians will measure damage to two aircraft panels using both traditional manual methods and 8tree’s dentCHECK tool and compare the difference in their work, which Chhabra says will show “life before and after dentCHECK.”

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.