Lufthansa to partner with DJI in drone technology

German airline Lufthansa Group has this week announced that it will partner with Chinese drone manufacturer DJI.

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The deal itself will be made with an independent subsidiary of the company, called Lufthansa Consulting GmbH, which focuses on support and solutions for a wide number of customers. Specific cooperation will be handled by the Lufthansa Aerial Services division.

Lufthansa hopes that it can work with the Chinese company to develop new drone-based services in this sector.

“Lufthansa Aerial Services is a perfect partner for DJI for joint market development of commercial UAV-applications,” said Martin Brandenburg, DJI’s European marketing director.

The company plans to integrate drone hardware and software, manage the operation of UAV technology and facilitate data analysis for customers of Lufthansa Aerial Services.

“This includes a variety of commercial applications such as for infrastructure inspection, measuring and monitoring purposes,” said Christian Hartmann, program director of Lufthansa Aerial Services.

Agile and small, drones provide Lufthansa the ability to carry our detailed inspections of difficult-to-reach equipment without putting humans at risk.

This, the company believes, could be marketed not just to airlines in the form of aircraft inspections, but also to infrastructure owners needing real-time monitoring.

This first use case is already being tested at Frankfurt International Airport in cooperation with Lufthansa Technik, while the latter has been trialled using DJI equipment to inspect rotor blades on wind turbines.

One stop UAV shop

Lufthansa has also announced that it will offer a wide range of support services for drone operations. These include piloting and data analysis, training and certification of drone pilots, and even drone insurance.

“Lufthansa will offer clients a one-stop UAV-shop,” says Andreas Jahnke, managing director of Lufthansa Consulting.

While Lufthansa has announced a myriad of drone-based aerial solutions, it has so far remained tight-lipped on whether it will make use of off-the-self commercial drones produced by DJI, or instead work with the drone manufacturer to develop its own specialised models.

By Michael Cruickshank

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