Apr 19, 2017 | By Benedict

Etihad Airways Engineering has signed an agreement with Diehl Aerosystems to design, manufacture, and install an inflight entertainment (IFE) cover plate, its first serial-produced 3D printed plastic part for an aircraft cabin.

For most of us, flying economy isn’t really an option—it’s a necessity. Flights are expensive, and all the legroom in the world wouldn’t make me double my fare. Nonetheless, envy still frequently kicks in when you get a glimpse of the flowing champagne, plush headrests, and high-tech television sets in the more expensive seating areas. Fortunately, Etihad Airways has just gone some way to relieving that business class envy on its flights—not by extending its most luxurious services to economy passengers, but by introducing 3D printed parts to its economy cabins. Champagne? I’ll take a 3D printed screen casing, thanks.

According to a press release put out earlier today, Etihad Airways Engineering and Diehl have joined forces to develop and manufacture a 3D printed inflight entertainment (IFE) cover plate that will be installed in economy seats on several aircraft of a Middle Eastern airline. Should production and installation of the 3D printed aircraft part go smoothly, the two companies will use the experience as a springboard for further collaboration: Etihad says it plans to create a “range of products” off the back of the collaboration.

Etihad says that, by 3D printing the cover plate, it can save between 20 and 30 percent on costs, while additive manufacturing also offers the advantages of not requiring tooling and avoiding any permanent modification to the seat. By creating the 3D printed cabin part, Etihad Airways Engineering is exploiting its unique position as the first airline maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) provider to receive European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval to design, certify, manufacture, and fly 3D printed aircraft cabin parts made from plastic.

“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,” commented Jeff Wilkinson, CEO of Etihad Airways Engineering. “Our partnership with Diehl will help us commercialize this technology and make it available to our customers around the world.”

Earlier this year, Etihad Airways partnered with Siemens and Strata to develop the Middle East’s first 3D printed aircraft interiors. As part of the agreement, the companies established a pilot program in which Siemens would provide the 3D printable materials, Etihad would handle certification, and Strata would take care of 3D printing the aircraft parts.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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