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The aircraft design process is a loosely defined method used to balance many competing and demanding requirements to produce an aircraft that is strong, lightweight, economical and can carry an adequate payload while being sufficiently reliable to safely fly for the design life of the aircraft. Similar to, but more exacting than, the usual engineering design process, the technique is highly iterative, involving high level configuration tradeoffs, a mixture of analysis and testing and the detailed examination of the adequacy of every part of the structure. For some types of aircraft, the design process is regulated by national airworthiness authorities.

This article deals with powered aircraft such as airplanes and helicopter designs.

Conceptual design of a Bréguet 763 Deux-Ponts

Aircraft conceptual design involves sketching a variety of possible configurations that meet the required design specifications. By drawing a set of configurations, designers seek to reach the design configuration that satisfactorily meets all requirements as well as go hand in hand with factors such as aerody

Aircraft conceptual design involves sketching a variety of possible configurations that meet the required design specifications. By drawing a set of configurations, designers seek to reach the design configuration that satisfactorily meets all requirements as well as go hand in hand with factors such as aerodynamics, propulsion, flight performance, structural and control systems.[40] This is called design optimization. Fundamental aspects such as fuselage shape, wing configuration and location, engine size and type are all determined at this stage. Constraints to design like those mentioned above are all taken into account at this stage as well. The final product is a conceptual layout of the aircraft configuration on paper or computer screen, to be reviewed by engineers and other designers.

Preliminary design phase

The design configuration arrived at in the conceptual design phase is then tweaked and remodeled to fit into the design parameters. In this phase, wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamic calculations of the flow field around the aircraft are done. Major structural and control analysis is also carried out in this phase. Aerodynamic flaws and structural instabilities if any are corrected and the final design is drawn and finalized. Then after the finalization of the design lies the key decision with the manufacturer or individual designing it whether to actually go ahead with the production of the aircraft.

The design configuration arrived at in the conceptual design phase is then tweaked and remodeled to fit into the design parameters. In this phase, wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamic calculations of the flow field around the aircraft are done. Major structural and control analysis is also carried out in this phase. Aerodynamic flaws and structural instabilities if any are corrected and the final design is drawn and finalized. Then after the finalization of the design lies the key decision with the manufacturer or individual designing it whether to actually go ahead with the production of the aircraft.[41] At this point several designs, though perfectly capable of flight and performance, might have been opted out of production due to their being economically nonviable.

Detail design phase

This phase s

This phase simply deals with the fabrication aspect of the aircraft to be manufactured. It determines the number, design and location of ribs, spars, sections and other structural elements.[42] All aerodynamic, structural, propulsion, control and performance aspects have already been covered in the preliminary design phase and only the manufacturing remains. Flight simulators for aircraft are also developed at this stage.

Delays

Some commercial aircraft have experi

Some commercial aircraft have experienced significant schedule delays and cost overruns in the development phase. Examples of this include the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a delay of 4 years with massive cost overruns, the Boeing 747-8 with a two-year delay, the Airbus A380 with a two-year delay and US$6.1 billion in cost overruns, the Airbus A350 with delays and cost overruns, the Bombardier C Series, Global 7000 and 8000, the Comac C919 with a four-year delay and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which was delayed by four years and ended up with empty weight issues.[43]

Program development