Hungarian firm AerinX is developing an augmented reality (AR) solution for the external inspection and maintenance of aircraft and other aerial vehicles, and is set to receive a HUF 250 million investment from X-Ventures Gamma Venture Capital to facilitate its introduction to the market.
International aviation industry statistics show that some 70-80% of aircraft accidents occur due to human lapses or mistakes, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal. While a significant portion of such cases involve mistakes committed by either pilots or flight crew, a marked amount of lapses happen during checking and maintenance of aircraft.
Hungarian company AerinX aims to solve this problem with an AR-based system which assists with external surface checks and the conduct of related maintenance of aircraft. The system is expected to make the process simpler, faster, and more precise.
According to the press release, most damage detection, registration and documentation still occurs manually, with maintenance engineers measuring damage with a ruler, marking the spot with a marker pen, before having to sift through long, paper-based documentation when determining the seriousness of the damage.
"The aircraft industry and aviation is one of the most technology-intensive branches of industry, so it can be shocking, even for laymen, how backward the segmentʼs digitalization is," says Antal Bence Kiss, AerinXʼs CEO. "This is also true for the surface inspection and maintenance of aircraft. Our smart inspection system combines AR technology with modern picture processing, giving a decision-supporting tool in the hands of professionals."
The system allows engineers conducting maintenance to determine the size and exact location of damage. AerinX is able to project all relevant technical information about a given aircraft type in 3D on the surface of the plane, including plate thickness at the given point and damage history. The press release says this will allow inspections to be considerably faster and more accurate, decreasing the chance of human mistakes, and resulting in fewer accidents.
The system might also come in handy during so-called "aircraft on ground" (AOG) situations, when planes have to be immediately inspected due to damage or other incident. Currently, an average external inspection may take up to 90 minutes, or even two hours with the current methods. AerinX claims to be able to reduce this time to 20 minutes, which may result in many millions of forints in saved costs, while also resulting in reduced delays.
The AerinX system is currently in its prototype phase, with the firm getting investment support for further development and market introduction.
"X-Ventures will invest HUF 250 million of venture capital in three steps into AerinX," says X-Ventures CEO Levente Zsembery. "The industrial use of AR is facing a giant boom, with experts predicting the marketʼs size to reach USD 100 billion by 2020, with the number of users reaching a billion. The aircraft and aviation industry belong to the most dynamically developing industry branches, so we see significant market potential in the AerinX technology, and the know-how gathered by the team."
At the moment, AerinX is negotiating with multiple industry actors, including aircraft maintenance and manufacturing companies, about strategic cooperation and the productʼs introduction to the market.