British Airways (BA/BAW) has said that it is undertaking a trial to explore the possibility of using 3D Printers to create aircraft parts.
The airline says that it could routinely print parts such as tray tables or aircraft windows in a bid to reduce it having to fly spare parts around the world, therefore, reducing its carbon footprint.
It would work by having 3D printers located at airports around the world and they would the print parts required by the aircraft at that location which will also help to minimise delays for passengers when parts need to be flown in.
Ricardo Vidal, Head of Innovation at British Airways said: “We work with start-ups and innovation partners from around the world to explore and implement the very latest technologies, from artificial intelligence to speed up turnaround times to biometrics, helping us to deliver a seamless airport experience for customers. 3D printing is yet another advancement that will keep us at the forefront of airline innovation.”
Whilst it is expected that the trial will start with non-safety critical parts if successful the trial could move on to more key components, even entire planes!
British Airways’ top ten predictions for how 3D printing could be used:
- Products for amenity kits, such as toothbrushes or combs
- Tray tables
- Aircraft windows
- Inflight entertainment screens
- Baggage containers
- Circuit boards for electrical components
- Flight deck switches
- Aircraft shells