AMS Spring 2023

Etihad Partners with Diehl to 3D Print Aircraft Components for Middle Eastern Airline

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Etihad Airways, the second largest airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Diehl Aerosystems, the engineering arm of the Diehl Group, entered into a strategic partnership to manufacture and integrate 3D printed components into the aircraft of a Middle Eastern airline.

The joint agreement between the engineering departments of Etihad and Diehl entail a multi-year deal to manufacture 3D printed cabin components for an airline customer in the Middle East. The engineers of Etihad and Diehl will cooperate to design, create and manufacture a wide range of products. Prior to the implementation of 3D printed components, the two companies plan to conduct various pilot experiments to test the applicability of 3D printing.

“Etihad Airways Engineering is leveraging its Part 21J Design Organisation approval by EASA – with Diehl contributing as a Part 21G Production Organisation – in this pilot project. Our partnership with Diehl will help us commercialise this technology and make it available to our customers around the world,” said Jeff Wilkinson, Etihad Airways Engineering Chief Executive Officer. 

He further noted that the utilization of 3D printing technology can decrease operational and manufacturing costs by up to 30 percent. One of the largest cuts in expenses which 3D printing technology offers is the elimination of intermediaries in shipping and manufacturing. Usually, airlines and aircraft manufacturers secure contracts from third party manufacturers to mass produce aircraft components. Upon the completion of the manufacturing process, third party manufacturers ship the components back to the companies for assembling.

Boeing, the $111.6 billion American aircraft manufacturer, also recently noted that 3D printed titanium components could save companies like Boeing up to $3 million per plane. Rapid Plasma Deposition, the 3D printing method to be used for for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, is a specialized technology developed by Boeing contractor Norsk Titanium AS. Chip Yates, Norsk Titanium’s vice president of marketing, stated that the utilization of 3D printing could save up to $3 million for each Dreamliner.

More importantly, Yates explained that 3D printed materials and components are significantly lighter than conventional materials and aircraft parts. The implementation of large-scale 3D printed components could reduce tons of weight from aircraft. Yates stated, “You’re talking about tons, literally.”

According to Etihad Airways Engineering, the company is the first airline maintenance and repair department to be given European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval to manufacture, design and implement 3D printed aircraft cabin plastic parts. Etihad is also responsible for the design of the first certified 3D printed interior aircraft component to fly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

In the upcoming months, engineers at Etihad Airways and Diehl will focus on the development and implementation of commercial 3D printed cabin components. Depending on the success of the project, the two companies may potentially expand their operations and target other parts of the aircraft. Discuss in the Etihad forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Albawaba]

 

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