Hungarian startup AerinX is developing an augmented reality (AR) solution that it says could make the process of inspecting aircraft surfaces much simpler, faster and more precise. According to the company, the new system can reduce the time it takes to manually inspect an aircraft’s surface from up to two hours to around 20 minutes, which would significantly save costs and reduce delays.
“Our vision is to completely revolutionize the way aircraft skin inspection is carried out at the moment,” explains Antal Bence Kiss, CEO, AerinX. “To achieve this, we are developing a smart inspection system which combines AR technology with modern picture processing, giving a decision-supporting tool in the hands of professionals. AerinX promises to reduce inspection time in case of AOG events, as well as line and heavy maintenance.”
The system, which began development in 2015, uses smart glasses to project all relevant technical information about an aircraft type—such as plate thickness at a given point or damage history—in 3D on the surface of the aircraft. This allows maintenance workers to determine the size and exact location of damage, which is automatically registered to AerinX’s database so the inspection results can be investigated remotely.
“We continuously build AerinX’s database to include as many aircraft types and their maintenance manuals as possible,” says Imre Hanyecz, CCO, AerinX. “We are able to extend and customize our database to the exact needs of our actual clients and partners.”
AerinX has tested a variety of different AR glasses and headsets and it is currently using the Microsoft HoloLens. “We constantly keep an eye on the market, as AR technology itself is undergoing rapid development, and we aim to always work with the best available equipment for our use case,” explains Hanyecz.
According to AerinX, the benefit of its system compared to similar AR technologies is that it intends to supplement current inspection processes rather than fully automate them, which means the system could be implemented into daily operations much sooner. Hanyecz adds that the AerinX system will serve as a “decision-making tool in the hands of the maintenance engineers” and build on their expertise during the inspection process.
Hanyecz says the company has reached the stage of maturity where it can begin focusing on starting a limited number of strategic partnerships with airlines and MROs for testing and refining the system. AerinX recently began a strategic partnership with Aeroplex of Central Europe, one of the region’s largest MROs, to implement the system in heavy and line maintenance processes. During this prototype testing phase, which AerinX estimates will take around six months, the two companies will work closely to refine and further develop the system’s functionality in real life industry conditions. Hanyecz says the next phase of development—which is estimated to take another six months—will entail refining and testing AerinX’s extended functionality.
The company is currently working on getting venture capital investment support to help with development and market introduction of the technology in both the civil and defense aviation sectors. AerinX has received seed funding from Hungarian VC X-Ventures Gamma Capital Funds and is currently aiming to raise Series A round of funding to help launch the product in approximately 12 months’ time.
AerinX says it is still open to forming partnerships with industry players during its current phase of development and pricing information for the system has yet to be determined.