Airtex aviation cost control study

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Airtex aviation cost control study

Commercial aircraft development Date: Dec — Oct Cost: Often when a project gets into trouble it is the result of the interaction of many poorly made decisions. Occasionally it is a single decision that can be isolated out as the source of trouble.

Aircraft Scheduled Airframe Maintenance and Downtime Integrated Cost Model

The Airbus A is one such project. With two full decks, a wingspan wider than a football pitch and space for up to passengers in high density modethe A is the most complex aircraft flying today.

While the aircraft has now been in operational service for 6 years, the project that created this behemoth suffered its fair share of problems and delays. At the heart of the problems were difficulties integrating the complex wiring system needed to operate the aircraft with the metal airframe through which the wiring needed to thread.

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With Km of wires, cables and wiring harnesses weave their way throughout the airframe. With more thanwires and 40, connectors performing 1, separate functions, the Airbus A has the most complex electrical system Airbus had ever designed. Wires and their harnesses had been manufactured to specification, but during installation the wires turned out to be too short.

As construction of the prototype continued Airbus management slowly came to the realization that the issue was not an isolated problem and that short wires was a pervasive issue throughout the design.

Internal reviews identified that the heart of the problem was the fact that the different design groups working on the project had used different Computer Aided Design CAD software to create the engineering drawings.

The development of the aircraft was a collaboration between 16 sites spread across 4 different countries. Part way through the project the design centres also started integrating their diagrams into a single 3D Digital Mock-up Unit DMU that should further have validated compatibility.

Unfortunately, the construction of F-WWOW demonstrated that theory and practice are not always the same thing. In part the problem was the CATIA version 5 was not a simple evolution from version 4, it was a complete rewrite. Reports indicate that the calculations used to establish bend radii for wires as they wove through the airframe were inconsistent across the different versions of the software and that inconsistency resulted in the problem.

Taking months to complete the project was delayed multiple times as hundreds of engineers tried to overcome the problems. At one point more than 1, German engineers were camped out at the Toulouse production facility trying to rectify the problems.

The root of the problem can be traced back to a single decision: That decision resulted in design inconsistencies, mismatched calculations and configuration management failures. As for many failed decisions there is a lot of context that lead up to that decision.

Much of that context had to do with the history of Airbus. As aircraft development projects became larger, more complex and more risky, these separate entities found it hard to compete.

To overcome the problem European governments began cooperating with each to integrate their individual aerospace expertise into an organization that was large enough to compete with the US based Boeing Commercial Aircraft company.

As those who have done merger type projects know, merging disparate entities into a single homogeneous whole is not easy. Those differences can be both hard and expensive to overcome and at Airbus a number of such differences were still deeply entrenched when the A project began.

Five years later that issue was to cost him his job and he resigned as part of the house cleaning that resulted once the magnitude of the issue became clear.

However, that one small decision point became the seed from which a billion dollar delay matured. Of course, interoperability of design tools is not only an Airbus issue.

Contributing factors as reported in the press: Overly complex organizational structure that attempted to keep different parts of the organization happy rather than focusing on how best to build the aircraft. Failure to form a single project team across the multiple design centres in use.

Overly aggressive schedule leading to schedule pressure such that key issues were ignored early in the project lifecycle. Failure to address issues when they were first identified resulted in snowballing costs and significantly higher costs once the problems were finally faced up to.This case study examines the total maintenance cost, which includes maintenance cost (MTC) and downtime cost (DTC), of an A aircraft during one light .

Airtex aviation cost control study

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