Flying asset: Framework for developing scalable maintenance program for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Alberto Martinetti (Corresponding Author), Erik Jan Schakel, Leo A.M. van Dongen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    214 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The paper aims to create a Framework to provide a Scalable Maintenance Program for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in order to choose the most suitable and feasible maintenance strategy in terms of reliability.

    Design/methodology/approach: The paper opted for a Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)-based approach to develop the Framework using an UAS as starting point of the research. A linear and user-friendly design of the methodology based on a Boolean flow chart was chosen in order to lead the analyst through the process avoiding as much as possible subjectivity decision making issues. Finally, the Framework was component-level performed by the a UAS company gathering feedback on its applicability.

    Findings: An agile and structured decision-making framework for developing scalable maintenance program of UAS is provided. The proposed solution gives the opportunity to tailor the maintenance strategy to the technical characteristics, considering not only the single component but also situations and conditions in which the machine will operate.

    Research limitations/implications: Because of the chosen research approach, the Framework is potentially applicable to every UAS. A first trial of the method was run on a multirotor vehicle equipped with 8 electric brushless motors. Further studies focused on different UAS will be mandatory in order to obtain comparable and robust findings and a reliable approach.

    Practical implications: This study offers a different scheme to elaborate a specific maintenance solution related to the characteristics of the system. It strives to remedy the drawbacks of the traditional approach for manned aircraft not completely suitable for systems with such different functions, features and tasks. The authors believe that the method presented in this paper will provide a new selection tool for choosing maintenance actions based on the features of the UAS.

    Originality/value: This paper provides a new and usable solution to include the maintenance actions in the management of pioneering products. In spite of the maintenance program represents an essential aspect to provide reliable assets, frameworks to create programs and to help manufacturers and users are still difficult to find or to apply to different UAS. This gap enhances the misunderstanding that the maintenance is not required or essential for the unmanned aircrafts management.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)152-169
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of quality in maintenance engineering
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2018


    • UT-Hybrid-D
    • Scalable maintenance program
    • Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)
    • Maintenance decision making
    • Unmanned aerial vehicle


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