Singapore's new fleet of aerial refuelling aircraft to be used in trial of 3D printing spare parts

Airbus' website indicates Singapore has ordered six A330 MRTT tankers, an aerial refuelling aircraft. PHOTO: AIRBUS

SINGAPORE - The 3D printing of spare parts for aircraft will be trialled on Singapore's new fleet of A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) aircraft, aeronautics company Airbus announced on Thursday (July 19).

It is the first initiative under Airbus and Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) digital technology collaboration, which was signed at the inaugural Singapore Defence Technology Summit on June 27.

Airbus' website indicates Singapore has ordered six A330 MRTT tankers, an aerial refuelling aircraft.

Airbus Defence and Space will support DSTA in designing and certifying parts produced by additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft. On its website, Airbus said 3D printing enables small-batch manufacturing of replacement parts that is quicker and less costly than conventional moulding techniques.

"The RSAF has acquired the A330 MRTT and the first aircraft will be delivered to Singapore in the coming months," said Airbus in its media release.

A DSTA spokesman told The Straits Times that the aircraft is expected to make its first public appearance at the RSAF50 parade on Sept 1.

Head of military aircraft services at Airbus Defence and Space, Mr Stephan Miegel, said: "It is absolutely clear that digitisation represents the future of military aircraft services and we are now at a point where we can begin to explore the most promising techniques on operational fleets. We greatly appreciate the innovative approach of DSTA in going on this journey with us."

He said another area of collaboration agreed on by Airbus and DSTA is to use data analytics to predict when equipment will need maintenance, thus providing early warnings of maintenance issues.

"The collaboration will add on to the development of Airbus's new SmartForce suite of maintenance data analytics launched at Farnborough," he said.

This SmartForce system, which was launched on Monday, incorporates on-site private data clouds, and the data gathered can be used to enhance operational safety, boost fleet availability and reduce maintenance support costs.

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