Honeywell achieves FAA certification for flight-critical engine part built from additive manufacturing

Part #4/5 bearing housing was installed on an in-service engine ©Honeywell

Honeywell has created the first certified, flight-critical engine part using additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing. The part, known as the #4/5 bearing housing, is currently in production and was installed on an in-service engine. It is a major structural component in the ATF3-6 turbofan engine used on the Dassault Falcon 20G maritime patrol aircraft, which is used by the French Navy for patrol and search-and-rescue missions.

Designed by Garrett in the 1960s and certified in 1967, there are only about a dozen ATF3-6 engines still flying. This presents sourcing and supply chain challenges for operators of Dassault Falcon 20G aircraft. Additionally, the #4/5 bearing housing is a complicated part to manufacture — making it extremely costly for operators to replace due to the low quantity of orders placed. This challenge is combined with the high cost of tools needed to produce parts with traditional casting methods, where molten metal is poured into a mold and allowed to harden. With additive manufacturing, these parts can be printed much more quickly and in smaller quantities without the need for expensive tools. During this process, components are built from the bottom up, with layers of powdered metal fused on top of one another using a laser.

Honeywell has been working closely with the FAA on the development and certification of multiple additive-manufactured components. These efforts have enabled the bearing housing to be the first component approved under the normal FAA delegated authority, further reducing the time for qualification.

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