Revolutionizing Aircraft Maintenance: Delta’s Journey into Drone Technology

A Leap into the Future

In the rapidly evolving world of commercial aviation, Delta Air Lines stands out with its innovative approach to aircraft maintenance. Spearheading this revolution is Emma Galarza, a senior engineer at Delta TechOps.

With the integration of , Delta is not only enhancing its maintenance operations but is also pioneering a new era in the aviation industry, as reported by FlightGlobal.

The Path to Innovation

Emma Galarza's journey to Delta Air Lines is a story of ambition and innovation. A graduate of the Institute of Technology, Galarza initially joined Delta in 2018 through a co-op role while still a student.

This unique opportunity allowed her to gain hands-on experience in engineering, far beyond the typical internship. Her fascination with drone technology began early, marking the start of a career that would eventually lead her to transform Delta's maintenance operations.

Revolutionizing Aircraft Maintenance: Delta's Journey Into Drone Technology 2
Photo courtesy of FlightGlobal.

Delta's New Maintenance Tools: Dolly and Reba

Delta's foray into drone technology is embodied in two autonomous drones, aptly named “Dolly” and “Reba.” These are not mere gadgets for entertainment; they are at the heart of Delta's ambitious program to overhaul its maintenance operations.

The drones, small but powerful, are capable of conducting thorough inspections of aircraft, a task traditionally requiring extensive labor and time.

Delta collaborates with Mainblades, a Dutch firm that specializes in employing compact drones for aircraft inspections.

Drone Inspections: Efficiency and Safety

The introduction of drones into Delta's maintenance process is a game-changer. For instance, following a lightning strike, a widebody A350 requires up to 16 hours of manual inspection.

With drones, this task is dramatically reduced to just over an hour. This efficiency not only saves time but also addresses safety concerns associated with manual inspections at great heights.

Regulatory Approval and Future Aspirations

Delta's use of drones currently focuses on non-critical tasks like identifying paint blemishes. However, the airline is hopeful for future regulatory approvals to expand the use of drones for critical inspection work. This step could further revolutionize how maintenance is conducted in the aviation industry.

A Passion for Innovation

Emma Galarza, once intrigued by careers in automotive design or biomedical engineering, now finds her passion in aviation and aerospace.

Her work at Delta is not just about integrating new technologies; it's about enhancing the efficiency and safety of the maintenance teams on the ground.

As Delta and Galarza continue to explore the boundaries of aviation technology, they pave the way for a more efficient and innovative future in aircraft maintenance.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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