If you wanted proof that drones are exciting the big boys of industry then you need to look no further than today's announcement of a collaboration between part of the German Lufthansa group and Chinese drone manufacturer DJI.
Lufthansa is best known as the German national airline but the Lufthansa Group has 540 subsidiaries and other companies in which it has invested. Its Aerial Services division will now be working with DJI on developing commercial uses for drones. We've heard of most of them already - inspection of wind turbines, photo-voltaic panels, power lines, roads, railways and pipelines.
Drones for aircraft inspections
Easyjet is already using drones to inspect its aircraft during services. That's something that Lufthansa will do too. It will also will integrate hardware and software, manage operation of the technology and carry out data analysis.
What's more interesting is the possibility that Lufthansa will be marketing its services to some its existing clients as well as to other companies.
A DJI Matrice 100
Lufthansa Aerial Services recently used DJI equipment for a pilot project to check the blades on wind turbines. Drones get around the usual method of rope access, which takes time and is more dangerous. It has also trialled using drones for airport and aircraft inspection work.
LAS also plans to deploy drones equipped with thermal-imaging systems that can carry out routine inspections of infrastructure.
From the official pictures it appears LAS will be using the DJI Matrice 100
, the versatile sibling of the Inspire 1
, which has flexible configuration and the Guidance
detect and avoid option. It's likely they'll experiment with other drones in DJI's range.
Lufthansa and DJI - "perfect partners"
“Lufthansa Aerial Services is a perfect partner for DJI for joint market development of commercial UAV applications,” says DJI’s European Marketing Director, Martin Brandenburg. “The feedback from Lufthansa’s clients is of great value for the further development of our products.”
LAS's Christian Hartmann says "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."
Lufthansa Aerial Services and DJI agree a drone deal.
As existing commercial drone operators will be aware, many companies choose not to operate drones themselves because it's not their core business. Because drone technology, the regulations and safety management are complex, many clients decide that outsourcing is the best option.
That policy usually works in favour of the small to medium sized drone business. If big companies are now getting in on the act they will offer tough competition.
Lufthansa one-stop UAV shop
If you needed proof, see what Andreas Jahnke, Managing Director of Lufthansa Consulting, has to say.
“Lufthansa will offer clients a one-stop UAV-shop. 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.”
So who's going to be next to see the big corporate advantages of drones?