Costing aircraft components
A British Aerospace case study

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Page 2: Life-cycle cost analysis

British Aerospace 2 Diagram 1The other cost reduction technique is Life Cycle Cost Analysis to influence design. To avoid products being developed with a low acquisition cost but high operation and support costs, or vice versa, life cycle cost analysis considers the full cost of ownership of the products in the engineering and decision making process, to establish the correct balance of acquisition and in-service cost, whilst maintaining the required effectiveness of the product.

British Aerospace 2 Diagram 4British Aerospace uses sophisticated cost modelling to investigate and estimate the life cycle cost of an aeroplane. This provides insight into the hidden costs of operation and support hence overcoming the iceberg syndrome. All investment involves providing a balance between reliability and the cost of ownership. Investment in improving the reliability and ease of maintenance of an aircraft will help to reduce the cost of ownership, but usually with an increase in the cost of acquisition.

During the design stage, the earlier the opportunity for improvement can be identified, the less it will cost to incorporate. Initially the benefits exceed the associated cost of investment, resulting in a reduction in the life cycle cost. However, there is a point beyond which increased investment will not yield greater savings and the life cycle cost cannot be reduced further.

Life cycle cost analysis is the technique of predicting future costs early enough to enable decisions to be taken that influence design to minimise lifecycle costs without compromising the performance of an aircraft.

Production costs

British Aerospace 2 Diagram 2In considering the life cycle cost elements of a project, which relate to the costs of design, development, manufacture, operation and support of the aircraft, this study now focuses on the manufacture element of the life cycle cost with particular reference to the ‘in-house’ production manufacture cost.

This part of the life cycle cost, the in-house production cost, accrues all the costs related to turning the concept and design into an actual flying aircraft, capable of performing to its desired requirements.

British Aerospace 2 Diagram 3This complex manufacturing process basically involves the stages of:- planning the manufacturing methods, converting raw materials into high precision airframe components, assembling the airframe, integrating the vendor manufactured components with the airframe, ground testing the compatibility and function of the systems throughout the complete aircraft, flight testing each aircraft to ensure compliance to full performance and safety and finally painting the aircraft in the required livery ready for despatch to the customer.

Having highlighted earlier the importance of the utmost reliability and ease of maintenance, it can be seen that it is essential for components to be designed and manufactured with this in mind, whilst ensuring the need for accuracy in productability, quality and affordability.

British Aerospace | Costing aircraft components