Airbus services company Satair has provided an airline customer in the US with what is believed to be the first certified metal printed flying spare part.
According to Satair, this part specific to A320ceo is no longer procurable from the original supplier and this has led to Satair developing a different solution. The tailored additive manufactured solution reduces the likelihood of an AOG for this specific aircraft, and on a larger level leads to an increased flexibility in part production while meeting the same high quality standards ensured by EASA Form1 certification.
The A320ceo wingtip fences, which are installed in four different versions – starboard, port, upper and lower, are no longer in production and the original spare parts supplier had difficulties providing the cast part. This led to a regular loss of the moulds, resulting in a potentially high investment cost for Satair to replace the moulds for individual orders.
Felix Hammerschmidt, HO Additive Manufacturing Satair said: “We received an order for replacement parts and our AOG procurement department turned to the Additive Manufacturing team for a solution. After a short pre-assessment, the part was handed over to the RapidSpares design offices at Airbus.
“Using a new certification process they were able to re-certify the former cast part within five weeks and adapt it to titanium, which is a qualified airworthy additive manufacturing material”. He added: “The lead time for certification is expected to reduce even further in the future once the technology becomes more of a standard.”
The company also studied other conventional options such as re-designing the part for machining technology, but the resulting cost and lead-time implications were not competitive.
The company says printing of the wingtip fence parts was carried out at the Reference Manufacturing shop in Airbus Filton, which was process qualified in 2019 and is now able to produce airworthy parts regularly.