Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) – a division of Lufthansa Consulting, an independent subsidiary of global aviation giant Lufthansa – has signed a deal with Chinese drone technology company DJI in which the two will develop commercial applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Using DJI’s drones and open, onboard systems, Lufthansa says it will integrate hardware and software, manage operations of the technology, and facilitate data analysis. In addition, the companies will work together to optimize technology for special requirements sought by Lufthansa Aerial Services customers.
According to LAS, many of its key clients and manufacturers choose not to operate commercial drones by themselves because it is not their core business; they often prefer to outsource because of the technology’s complexity and the varying regulatory frameworks surrounding it, LAS explains.
“Lufthansa will offer clients a one-stop UAV shop,” explains Andreas Jahnke, managing director of Lufthansa Consulting. “This includes everything from application consulting and drone operation with data analysis, to training and certification of drone pilots at Lufthansa Flight Training, or even the provision of drone insurance solutions through Delvag, Lufthansa’s in-house insurer.”
“Lufthansa Aerial Services is a perfect partner for DJI for joint market development of commercial UAV applications,” states Martin Brandenburg, DJI’s European marketing director. “The feedback from Lufthansa’s clients is of great value for the further development of our products.”
LAS says it recently completed a pilot project with a wind turbine manufacturer in which DJI equipment was used to inspect rotor blades. LAS is also involved in UAV projects at and around airports – as demonstrated through recent tests at Germany’s Frankfurt International Airport – and joint inspections of Lufthansa aircraft surfaces with sister company Lufthansa Technik.
Beyond these examples, LAS also plans to deploy drones equipped with thermal imaging systems that can facilitate day-to-day inspections of infrastructure, such as wind power and photovoltaic systems, electricity and railroad lines, and pipelines laid above ground. Aerial technology also makes it easier to monitor crops, construction and extraction sites, LAS notes.
“The market potential of commercial drone applications is growing inexorably, thanks to the continuously improving regulatory situation and speed of technological progress in the market and innovation that DJI, as the global leader, has initiated,” says Christian Hartmann, program director of LAS.