Blockchain, 3-D Printing Combine to Make Aircraft Parts

Aircraft-component maker Moog Inc. is testing a combination of blockchain and 3-D printing to speed up the replacement of defective aircraft parts to a few hours from several days or even weeks.

The aircraft-parts market is heavily regulated, with sales requiring certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies. That means it isn’t exactly known for speed.

The East Aurora, N.Y., company aims to demonstrate that putting together the two emerging technologies—the distributed ledger behind cryptocurrencies and the building of parts on demand from digital blueprints—could support a new type of digital marketplace for plane parts.

“The idea is that I’m going to stock those parts digitally and turn them into physical goods when I need them,” said

George Small,

Moog’s chief technology officer. “It is, in the end, just trying to identify what all the inefficiencies are in the existing supply chains and then offer opportunities for improvement,” he added.

Using blockchain cuts down on paperwork, letting a buyer locate a part and buy it immediately.

“I need something that replaces the paper trail, but in a way that still supports this digital model and being able to print parts on demand,” Mr. Small said.

Moog, which has about 13,000 employees and recorded revenue of $2.9 billion in the year ended in September, tested the combination of blockchain and 3-D printing earlier this year, allowing an airline to order a part for a plane while it was in the air and have the part installed when it landed.

In the test, Air New Zealand Ltd. used Moog’s blockchain system, VeriPart, to order a replacement protective part for an in-seat screen for a Boeing 777-300 as it was en route from Auckland to Los Angeles. Using the blockchain process, a maintenance team in New Zealand ordered a digital file containing the part design from Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., a Singapore-based company that…

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