Aircraft Overhaul: Testing future technologies
On Malta, we are testing the future: whether drone-based inspections of the aircraft skin, mobile 3D scanners or exoskeletons, the innovation bay at Lufthansa Technik Malta will put the latest aircraft overhaul technologies to the test over the next few years.
The clear objective: every technology that proves itself in practice on the shop floor will be integrated in the local work process, quickly rolled out to all other base maintenance locations and then used for all checks and aircraft types.
Experimenting pays off
With the innovation bay, we are providing a platform for current problems and ideas for improvement. At the same time, we are opening our doors to both startups and established companies. Over the next few years, we will be testing state-of-the-art technologies for aircraft overhauls directly during our daily work. The new technologies should generally be suitable for all types of aircraft and checks.
Scanner detects damage
An innovative technology introduced in all our Base Maintenance facilities is the 3D-scanner from the German company 8tree. This mobile tool enables our mechanics to make detailed measurements of structural damage to the fuselage. Easily attached to the aircraft's outer skin, it provides immediate optical feedback. Compared to conventional measurement methods, the scanner saves around 80 percent of time and costs.
3D printing for tools
From spare parts for tools to tool improvements, we are now able to design and print everything ourselves in line with industry standards. The 3D-filament printer from "Ultimaker" makes it possible. Printed with a durable, highly stable material, we can produce a plastic part that protects the landing gear axle thread during overhauls, for example. This idea has proven to be so successful that we developed a database with over 100 printable tools in the meantime.
To find the best and most suitable technologies for the aircraft overhaul of the future, an event called Startup Challenge took place in the Innovation Bay to serve as an innovation accelerator. We scouted 2,000 startups from different fields and selected them according to previously defined criteria. In the end, we invited five to the challenge in Malta. Our expert jury decided which technologies we are going to work with in the future. Two made the cut: Evidato Technologies GmbH, a mobile sensor that serves aircraft as a parking aid, and Spiral Technology, a platform for mixed reality solutions that is suitable for remote maintenance, process control and on-the-job training.
Benefits for our customers
Improving processes =
We are planning to add further innovation bays to our worldwide base maintenance network. Thanks to these innovation bays and new technology partnerships, we are improving our work processes and making an important contribution to shortening aircraft layovers for our airline customers.