This page is meant to discuss the Mainblades drone alternatives. First, we would like to acknowledge the hard work from our competition at Donecle, Rapid, Customdrone, Luftronix and Rizse. Their teams are building great products to help the aviation industry to conduct more efficient aircraft inspections. If you are here to understand these alternatives and how our solution compares you are in the right place! At the bottom of this page you will find a full comparison table.
Donecle is a drone service company from France found in 2015. The company is out in the market for the longest and ahead of the competition when it comes to certification. Their custom-build drone was developed for MRO’s in need of a drone that works for different aircraft type. Currently, their solution is fully certified for the Airbus A320 maintenance manual, which makes it a great solution for A320-only fleets.
In order to conduct a reliable aircraft inspection however, users should keep in mind that Donecle’s technology requires the hangar being cleared and that beacons need to be placed around the aircraft. Since the drone is a custom-build customers rely on Donecle for drone spare parts and maintenance.
MROdrone (RAPID) is a UK-based joint venture between two aviation related companies. On the one hand BlueBear which is a supplier for various unmanned systems and on the other, Output 42, a software company. The joint venture has gained quite some attention a few years back after a cooperation with EasyJet. However, after this, the industry has not seen them around anymore for a while until January 2020. This is when MROdrone cooperated with Ubisense to launch the worlds first “Smart Hangar” solution.
Customdrone is a drone service company from the Netherlands, founded in 2013. While Mainblades’ drone flies fully autonomously, Customdrones’ DJI drone solution requires a pilot that manually manoeuvres the drone around the aircraft. When it comes to aircraft inspections, Customdrone has (solely) experience with Embraer aircraft. This is because the company is involved mainly in other industries outside of aviation and uses drones for other use cases such as inspections of bridges, cranes and crop fields.
Luftronix is a technology startup, founded in 2016. The company is headquartered in Franklin Lakes, US with research and development facilities in Kyiv, Ukraine. Logo and color scheme suggests that they are related to Lufthansa, which is not the case. Luftronix builds its own custom drone which operates semi-autonomously and has been tested primarily on DHC-4 cargo as well as Russian-build aircraft. If you do not need damage recognition software and localization based on aircraft stations/stringers, but instead prefer to go through a regular scan of your aircraft then Luftronix is a good partner to talk to.
Rizse is a Texas-based robotics and A.I. startup, founded in 2018. The company develops autonomous drone platforms and is in a proof-of-concept phase and hence not much information is available at this point. Rizse relies on a custom-build drone that features integrated LiDAR technology. Similar to Mainblades, the company offers a tablet interface (Streamsense) that allows to view all inspection reports in one place.
Full comparison table between Mainblades and other drone alternatives at a glance.
Using a standard drone means relying on an existing global support network and webshop for spare parts and continuous tech updates.
Using a self-developed drone means that it was build from scratch including its hard-and software. Customers from these companies therefore rely on them for spare parts and maintenance.
The drone operates fully autonomous and robotised (comparable to a self-driving car) which means that an additional pilot is not required to operate it.
The drone can be flown in outside (airport) environments. It is resistant to the effects of bad weather, especially windy and rainy conditions.