British Airways is trialling the use of 3D printing to create and replace parts on its aircraft.
Rather than flying spare parts to airports around the world, BA is exploring the possibility that windows, tray tables, cutlery, entertainment screens, seats, baggage containers, electrical circuit boards, flight deck switches and aircraft shells could be 3D printed on location.
The airline says printers can reduce delays and produce parts weighing 55% less than a standard version – which reduces carbon emissions.
Non-essential cabin parts will be the first to be generated, BA 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,” said Ricardo Vidal, head of innovation at BA.
“3D printing is yet another advancement that will keep us at the forefront of airline innovation.”
This exploration of 3D printing is part of the airline’s BA2119: Flight of the Future programme. Its research suggests biological scanners could produce food and drink to meet individual requirements and jet lag could be eradicated within the next decade.