First MV-22 Osprey with 3-D Printed Parts Takes Flight

An MV-22B Osprey equipped with a 3-D printed titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle maintains a hover during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. (Screen grab via U.S. Navy video)An MV-22B Osprey equipped with a 3-D printed titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle maintains a hover during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. (Screen grab via U.S. Navy video)

The first MV-22 Osprey with 3-D-printed parts recently took flight, the Navy announced.

The aircraft made by Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter unit and aerospace giant Boeing Co. performed a hover during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, the service said in a statement.

The Osprey was equipped with a titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle, thus marking the “first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing techniques,” according to the Navy, which released video of the demonstration on YouTube.

The historic test may pave the way for eventually helping to develop replacement parts in faster time and at less cost, officials have said.

“That’s where the Rosetta Stone is going to be,” Rear Adm. (Sel.) Francis Morley, vice commander of Naval Air Systems Command, said earlier this year at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference outside Washington, D.C., according to a previous article on our Military.com sister blog DoDBuzz by my colleague, Hope Hodge Seck.

“If we can start manufacturing flight-critical components, now you’re talking sustainment costs and speed and time; we have some really great opportunities to accelerate,” he added.

While the Air Force and Marine Corps currently fly the Osprey, the Navy is working toward developing its own variant.

The command in April awarded Bell-Boeing a $151 million contract to being working on the Navy-specific version, CMV-22B, which will be used to deliver gear and supplies to aircraft carriers. The service expects to receive its first Ospreys in 2020.

–Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.