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Cost of developing a new aircraft

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Cost of developing a new aircraft

Old 24th Jun 2011, 02:08
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Cost of developing a new aircraft

Gents,
does anyone have links or can point me in the direction of any resources around the costs of developing different types of new aircraft?
The question I'm seeking to answer is where the largest element of cost is incurred, before reaching break-even.
Obviously this will vary tremendously based on mission (i.e. are you designing a subsonic airliner, versus something like Concorde).
But I assume there are some broad principles that apply?
Prompted in part by studying the principle of net present value of projects, and someone who said that flight testing and certification is a hideously expensive part of any project...
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Old 24th Jun 2011, 09:18
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The following makes interesting reading:

http://www.craigeisenberger.com/samp...ger_boeing.pdf
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Old 24th Jun 2011, 12:37
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You can compare it with the cost of developing a new medicine. Having a product is one thing, but since the safety of people is depending on it, getting it certified is a huge huge hurdle which brings a high cost with it.
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Old 24th Jun 2011, 15:33
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Too many variables to answer this question even from someone who may have been on the frontline of making one. A new aircraft? Is it a new company? Many aircraft are variants of older models (the same hull with more efficient wings, mabe a bit longer etc.) Do you allready have jigs, tooling, staff, a facility?
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Old 25th Jun 2011, 09:48
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I know this is very much "how long is a piece of string", but I'll have a stab at someballpark figures

In terms of size and complexity, you can bracket aircraft roughly in the following five levels:

(1) microlight / homebuilt VLA
(2) Certified VLA, gliders & motorgliders, uncertified part 23
(3) Certified part 23, part 27
(4) Parts 25 and part 29, military transport
(5) Military combat

Each time you go up a level, I'd reckon on very-roughly adding another zero to any cost, whether it's design, build, purchase, flight test or certification.


At level 5, Typhoon is pretty well documented at 3.3bn + 30m per aircraft.

I've worked at just about every level of these, which probably makes me fairly unique - although not entirely as I can think of a few other people who also have. Amazing I'm still sane really. Wibble.


So, drawing a line between these and tweaking a bit for personal experience I'd say development costs are in the order of...


(1) microlight / homebuilt VLA: 100-250k ish
(2) Certified VLA, gliders & motorgliders, uncertified part 23- 250k-2.5m (this is the bracket with the greatest range)
(3) Certified part 23, part 27 - 25m - ish
(4) Parts 25 and part 29, military transport -250m ish
(5) Military combat - 2.5bn - ish

For the cost of a flight test programme, very very roughly again, at each level I'd say that level is about the number of aeroplanes you'll need on the programme - so 1 for a microlight and 5 for a combat aeroplane; reckon on the test programme needing that many dedicated aeroplanes - and the cost of the programme being about the cost of the aeroplanes plus the same again. So, if a microlight costs 20k, reckon on a 40k test programme cost, and if a typhoon costs 30m, reckon on about 300m for the test programme.

The total certification programme cost is probably in the order of the test programme plus another 50-100% depending upon the levels of novelty in the technology.



There is a chap called Jim Scanlan at Southampton University in England (I'm not him, but I've worked with him) who is a professor of aerospace project costs - if this is a serious professional question, you could do worse than put some consultancy his way, or if it's an academic question, look up some of his published papers.

G
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Old 25th Jun 2011, 14:11
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I think you're somewhat underestimating the civil costs at the upper end.

It's public domain that Bombardier's CSeries development/launch costs are of the order of $2.5bn (the terms development and launch seem to be being used interchangeably). (See WSJ as an example, citing $2.5bn)

Using the level 4 costs, it'd be $0.5bn + 4 aircraft at $50m + the same again, or about $900m total. That's under by a factor of about 3.

A while ago, Boeing took a charge of $2.5bn for the first three 787s, which it said it wouldn't be reselling. Since that was stated to be associated with the test aircraft, it must be a low end bound on their costs - I'd be surprised if the total development/launch cost were less than $5bn, and if you told me $10bn it wouldn't be a shock either.
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Old 25th Jun 2011, 14:39
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A good introduction to the topic is the following book. I have used this for many years.

RAYMER AIRCRAFT DESIGN: A CONCEPTUAL APPROACH
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Old 28th Jun 2011, 07:46
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Thank you all very much - some very interesting leads for further research.
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