Flying A Plane with Only One Hand: 3D Printing Has Made It Possible

For the first time in Italy, a disabled person (with one hand) has obtained a pilot’s licence for ultra-light planes. This is a success thanks, in part, to an electronic tool, ServoFly, created by the Varese based company Aidro using 3D printing: a good example of technology in the service of mankind.

by Alma Castiglioni

ServoFly T4/1, an actuator produced by Aidro with the help of metal 3D printing technology, has helped a young disabled man to gain his pilot’s licence. It is the first time in Italy that a pilot with one hand has achieved such a feat, and it is thanks, in part, to additive technology.
The person in question is Mattia Negusanti, a young police officer who had an arm amputated after a serious road accident. In August this year, Mattia passed his theory and practical VDS flying exams at the air club in Fano in the Marche region.

The solution: a light and customizable tool
To allow the pilot to fly in complete independence and safety, an ad-hoc solution was required.
Following the first prototypes in plastic, designed in synergy by designers, mechanical experts and one acrobatic pilot at Fano air club, the ServoFly project was taken up by Aidro, leveraging its strong oil-hydraulic and metal 3D printing know-how. The company put together a team of engineers and the necessary machinery to create a unique, additive technology product, which would be light and customizable.
3D printing, at the forefront of 4.0 Industry, can create flexible solutions that can be suited to a multitude of contexts – including that of disabled pilots: technology at the service of people.

An easy-to-install plug & fly component
The ServoFly T4/ actuator, which controls the motor gas bar command is not only a unique component in terms of its personalization which can adapt to Mattia’s disability, but also a plug & fly tool, therefore, easy to install in the cockpit.
ServoFly is attached to the bar without needing to modify the plane in any way. No checks or certification necessary. The Fano air club plane, a Pioneer 200 produced by Alpi Aviation, can be used by any pilot, with or without disability. What makes ServoFly even more innovative is that the specialist Formula 1 and MotoGP electronics company TecnoElettra Impianti, has made itself available for installation. The actuator electrical section, with its main commands, is on a joystick meaning it can be managed with a single hand. Mechanical flight trials were then tested by expert pilots at the Fano air club. Aidro is continuing in its promotion and development of innovative technology through 3D printing, so much so that it will become part of the Lombardy aerospace technological hub later this year.