Remote Assistance: First virtual cabin inspection at Airbus

Testia’s Remote Assistance solution has taken a huge step towards approval for use for inspections in the aerospace sector.

Airbus is testing the software “Remote Assistance”, a Testia product, within its DigIn (‘Digital Inspection’) project. It had originally been launched to enable a more flexible performance of cabin inspections as part of the certification process in times of increasing production rates.

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, this project has now gained a completely new meaning – and momentum.

Inspection, Live Stream, Reports and more – all with one single app

At the end of June, it was showtime at Airbus: the first completely ‘remotely controlled’ cabin inspection took place in Toulouse and Hamburg-Finkenwerder, made possible by a special PC software combined with the associated smartphone application called “Remote Assistance”, a product by Testia, an Airbus company.

Andreas Radtke, the responsible Airworthiness Engineer, did not have to make the trip to Blagnac, France, for the 3.5 hour inspection; instead, he evaluated the aircraft cabin from his office in Hamburg, Germany, via a live video stream. His colleague Matthias Kressner on the MAP (Mise au Point) team in Toulouse hosted the live stream from inside the A320neo aircraft and carried out the instructions relayed across the distance with the Remote Assistance app from Andreas’ office 1,300 kilometres away.

The inspection points included completeness and accessibility of emergency equipment, correctness and legibility of placards, aisle widths, and design features carrying a potential risk of injury for passengers and crew in the cabin, the lavatories, the galleys, and inside the stowage compartments. Nonconformances were photographed and, using the app, forwarded directly to the colleagues who are responsible for the Cabin Inspection Report.

“both on time and on quality without causing additional cost”

The team led by Gerard Mathieu, Head of the Airworthiness Technical Directorate, is satisfied with the result: “As painful as it may sound, the travel restrictions put in place to fight Covid-19 have given the project additional forward momentum,” Gérard confirms. “With the app, it has become possible for us to carry out many aspects of the cabin inspection both on time and on quality without causing additional cost.” The new technology offers further, very tangible benefits for his team: “We have more flexibility for integrating the cabin inspection in the final assembly process when the cabin is complete. That can take the pressure off our otherwise very tight schedule during the final delivery phase.”

Support for the project also comes from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA): the agency was involved in the project from an early stage and has already issued recommendations for the use of the Remote Inspection and Remote Test Witnessing apps. The next step will be to obtain the general approval for this way of working from the EASA. Then, roll-out of the app, which is still in the test phase at the moment, will receive the green light at Airbus.

Other organisations at Airbus are also working on adapting this concept for their purposes, one example being the First Article Inspection (FAI) at seat suppliers.

Text & Image: © Airbus

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