Madrid, Spain – Following a public tender, Aena, the world’s largest airport operator by passenger numbers, has appointed CANARD Drones to perform the inspection and calibration of PAPI NavAid systems at seven airports. This is the first-time drone technology will be used for the inspection of these systems. The PAPI (or Precision Approach Path Indicator) is a visual navigation aid (NavAid) located near the runway header that provides guidance information to help pilots acquire and maintain the correct angle of approach during landing. Since most air accidents occur in the approach and landing phases, airports around the world use NavAids to make it easier for pilots to land safely.
Regular inspections are vital as NavAids may lose accuracy as a result of continuous operation and adverse weather conditions. To comply with international regulations, NavAids are periodically inspected from the air. Currently, inspections are carried out by manned aircraft equipped with an in-flight verification console. This process is expensive in terms of fuel, maintenance and the cost of the specialized crew required. Manned inspection flights are susceptible to human error and also impact on the availability of runways. This means airports to lose valuable take-off and landing slots as well generating unnecessary extra noise. The specific configuration of the aircraft means there are a limited number, reducing availability to airports.
As an alternative, CANARD Drones reduce costs and offer controlled, autonomous and repeatable flight with more accurate, centimeter precision measurements. This is because the drone can hover in front of the PAPI, allowing for more accurate checks. The greater availability of drones means airports can perform on-demand inspection, increasing the number they can perform meaning the maintenance of NavAids is optimized.
“The use of drones for flight inspection is revolutionary for the air transport industry. After careful assessment, AENA chose CANARD Drones based on the strengths of our technology. Our drones offer airports the opportunity to do more and better inspections of the PAPI, as well as reducing or eliminating the need for manned flights, ” said Jorge Gomez, Director General of CANARD Drones, “Our system is the culmination of a long process of research and development, and CANARD is now the world leader in terms of innovation in the in-flight inspection market through drones. We are working closely with international civil aviation authorities and airport managers to bring our technology to airports around the world. “