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Can *just anyone* design and build an airliner nowadays?

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Can *just anyone* design and build an airliner nowadays?

Old 29th Mar 2024, 13:07
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c52
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Can *just anyone* design and build an airliner nowadays?

We have Boom building a supersonic airliner. https://boomsupersonic.com/

There is JetZero with a 767-sized blended wing airliner. https://www.jetzero.aero/

Add Radia, making the world's largest aircraft https://radia.com/windrunner

And any number of new companies building electric-powered air taxis.

All due to enter service before very long.

Meanwhile Boeing have an X-66 https://boeing.mediaroom.com/2023-08...A-Modification and Airbus don't seem to be going beyond wind-tunnel experiments

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Old 29th Mar 2024, 13:14
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"All due to enter service before very long" is stretching things more than a little, in the context of any of the aforementioned projects.
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Old 29th Mar 2024, 14:55
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Designing and building are two quite different processes, which also need to be combined with selling the product. Think of how many paper designs there have been over the years, or of supposedly good designs that were built in very small numbers.
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Old 29th Mar 2024, 16:27
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Windrunner entry into service reported as 2027 by SimpleFlying (which I have no trust in). The other two for 2030 according to their would-be makers.
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Old 29th Mar 2024, 18:36
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Originally Posted by c52
Windrunner entry into service reported as 2027 by SimpleFlying (which I have no trust in). The other two for 2030 according to their would-be makers.
Paper airplanes are easy. Hundreds of them have come and gone over the last decades.
All the other steps are hard - really hard.
Raising the necessary capital (10's of billions of dollars)
Engineering the thing with all the issues that entails, building and flying prototypes.
Demonstrating it meets the design requirements, testing it (including destructive testing for structural soundness) - and all the other stuff needed to get the thing certified.
Figuring out how much you need to sell it for to make it economically feasible (selling airliners at a loss is not a sustainable business plan).
Convincing customers to buy the thing - at a price that is more than what it's going to cost.
Developing a worldwide support network to keep the things flying.
Raise billions more when all that stuff goes over budget.

Bombardier tried to do that with the C-Series. For all intensive purposes it put them out of the commercial airliner business and they had to give the program to Airbus.
Lockheed tried to do that with the L1011 Tristar. It put them (and Rolls Royce) into bankruptcy, requiring sizable government bailouts and put Lockheed out of the commercial aircraft business.
Sukhoi tried with the Superjet 100 - they've so far lost a fortune and managed to deliver barely 200 of them over 15 years since cert (barely over 1/month - way less than breakeven)

Get the idea?
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Old 29th Mar 2024, 21:51
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exactly so, yet there appear to be people investing large fortunes, presumably in the hope of getting an even larger fortune back. There's no sign of anyone wanting to start small and build up over the course of decades, like Embraer.

I'm just wondering if advances in technology mean it's suddenly feasible for beginners to push bounds of aviation.
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Old 29th Mar 2024, 22:09
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Originally Posted by c52
exactly so, yet there appear to be people investing large fortunes, presumably in the hope of getting an even larger fortune back. There's no sign of anyone wanting to start small and build up over the course of decades, like Embraer.
Best way to make a small fortune building commercial jetliners is to start with a large fortune...
Originally Posted by c52
I'm just wondering if advances in technology mean it's suddenly feasible for beginners to push bounds of aviation.
If anything, it's made it harder. For all the flack the FAA has gotten over the MAX fiasco, it's far harder to certify something now that it was even 30 years ago (and an order of magnitude harder than it was 50 years ago. As just one example, for the 747-400, the certification plan for the FADEC engine control system was about 30 pages long - that for 3 engine types (CF6-80C2, PW4000, and RB211-524) and two aircraft types (747 and 767). As just one example, 25 years later, my engine control cert plan for the 767-2C/KC-46 (one engine type - PW4000 - no hardware changes, new software only with one 'new' function) was over 100 pages long (I know because I was able to locate the original cert plan to use as a reference while creating the 767-2C cert plan).
Boeing managed to build and certify the 747SP and make some money only producing 45 of them. Now day's you'd need to produce at least 100 to just break even on the non-recurring costs of design and cert.
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Old 7th Apr 2024, 08:26
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Interesting that in the discussions of Boeing in free fall, estimates for a new airliner from Airbus or Boeing are at USD 20-30 Billion and 6-10 years

Even updating a Business jet has cost Dassault almost a billion
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