Additive Manufacturing in Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), Part 2

September 1, 2018

370 words

 

4 minute read

 

 

An article from our friends at the AJW Group, Why a 'local first' approach to component MRO may cost more, caught my eye today. In brief, it touches on factors influencing the way aircraft operators manage their component MRO.

 

Some of the mentioned KPIs are valuable, assuming the operator has provisioned appropriately or is not in an AOG situation. However, I’d like to suggest another angle to consider, one that is increasingly becoming a reality for aircraft component MRO: (you guessed it) Additive Manufacturing (AM) & the role it may play.

 

I first want to acknowledge that 1) not all aircraft or engine parts can be produced with AM and 2) the full AM value chain is complex and consists much, much more than just an AM machine that builds parts.

 

And whether an operator is with or without an effective parts provisioning strategy, I do believe this technology can help to improve some of the supply chain headaches mentioned in the AJW article. I believe that as the various AM technologies, regulatory processes, and IP restrictions (or perhaps we call them IP partnerships?) continue to mature, we will see these benefits continue to increase as well.

 

The article mentions a potential of 25+ days to source a part; what if that part is AM compatible and can be replaced (vs. repaired) using AM? I’ll provide this ST Aerospace/Moog collaboration as an example of one potential path to execution.

 

Also, it’s easier to visualize this if you think inside the aircraft cabin first.

 

Depending on who performs the manufacture (versus the repair) of the component, what does this new (and already quite complex) aftermarket-parts sourcing ecosystem even look like? I envision a successful model as something like this:

 

Design & Certification at one location and Manufacture at another.
 

Not too different than the model today: Design & Certification at one location and Repair at another. The question left to ponder on is who fits into that "Manufacture" space in this new model? (Hint: is it the MRO, the service bureau (sort of like the parts "aggregator"), the OEM, or the end-user?)

 

Alison

 

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As always, I welcome any comments or questions at additivealison@gmail.com.

 

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