Amsterdam-based startup Aiir Innovations has developed a smart, AI-based software system that for the inspection of aircraft engines. The company has just announced an investment of €500k from Mainport Innovation Fund II.
Maintaining aircraft engines largely depends on manpower. The mechanic inspects each component, records any damage manually, and provides a recommendation. Aiir Innovations is developing software that mechanics can use in borescope (optical) inspections to detect anomalies, like cracks and dents.
“Think of it as an assistant with an extra pair of digital eyes analysing videos and images at lightning speed,” said co-founder Bart Vredebregt. “And all information is immediately processed into a digital report.
“We can already reduce the full borescope inspection time from 16 hours to about 12 hours. But that’s only the beginning. In four to six years’ time, we expect to be able to perform the inspection in just 20% of the time it currently takes.”
KLM is playing an important role in the development of the new software. For instance, the Aiir Innovations team has been able to work closely with engineers and mechanics on the KLM work floor over the past three years. Earlier this year, KLM Engineering & Maintenance signed a five-year contract. The launching customer also helps the startup with data and connections from their own network.
“Our engineers perceive working with the software as enjoyable,” said Paul Chün, Vice President KLM Engine Services. “Thanks to the digital report, they spend less time on administrative tasks. This not only improves the way they record, it also increases job satisfaction.”
“KLM sets the highest possible standards for aircraft maintenance,” said Erik Swelheim, Managing Director and CFO at KLM. “This software helps to further improve quality and thus contributes to air safety.”
In addition to KLM, Aiir Innovations also has a number of pilots with maintenance companies in Europe, and expects more in coming years.
“We are therefore using the investment of half a million euros to continue our expansion abroad. To achieve this, we need to set up a professional sales organisation,” said Vredebregt.
“Another challenge in the coming years will be to obtain the certification we need for the next version of our product. The laws and regulations in aviation are rightly very strict. If we want to use our artificial intelligence on a large scale, we will have to meet all the requirements.”
The company also wants to use the financing to further improve the product in the coming years, allowing inspections to be carried out even better and faster.
Mainport Innovation Fund II is an initiative of Schiphol, KLM, TU Delft, NS and the Port of Amsterdam, in collaboration with fund manager NBI Investors. The fund focuses on accelerating innovations in logistics, aviation, and transport.
“This is a perfect example of how a large corporate like KLM can work together with a startup to enable innovation,” said Thijs Gitmans, manager of MIF II. “In addition, the team consists of five intelligent and very ambitious entrepreneurs who have the potential to turn this into a success. This combination makes this startup a perfect fit for our fund.”