Exploring Additive Manufacturing for Aircraft Maintenance
China Eastern Airlines (CEA) operates a modernized fleet of over 600 aircrafts, reaching 1,062 destinations in 177 countries. To ensure flight safety, Eastern Airlines Technic Co., Ltd. shoulders the important tasks of CEA’s aircraft maintenance and part repair.
Aviation requires extremely high safety standards, so what inspired CEA to begin using additive manufacturing (AM)? In 2015, CEA’s first brand-new Boeing 777 passenger aircraft had misprinted seat signs. The cost for purchasing replacements was too expensive for such a small error, so engineers used 3D printing. The new signs were ready in three days at a much lower cost, so CEA quickly set up a dedicated AM lab to explore more applications for 3D printing.
The 3D printed electronic flight bag support device installed by Eastern Airlines Technic AM lab.
“China Eastern Airlines plans to introduce the new Airbus 350 which is equipped with over 1,000 3D-printed flying parts. As a complementary method to the traditional manufacturing, 3D printing will become more widely adopted in the future. It’s critical to gain the expertise and be well-prepared for future challenges.”
Chen Zhiyi, Eastern Airlines Technic Co., Ltd.