How Aviation Suppliers Can Fly High and Overcome Industry Challenges

Written By: Ailbhe Coughlan
  • 5/11/2016

To stay innovative and meet the requirements of the aviation industry, suppliers need to be more innovative and flexible to stay on track. Presently, global airlines are expanding their fleet and at the same time demanding new technology. For the airlines, new technologies are a must to streamline operations, reduce cost and increase their competitive edge (Strategy&).

What impact does that have on the suppliers? According to Oliver Wyman, global leader in management consulting, European Aerospace suppliers are presently facing three main challenges:

  • Design and develop more complex parts and systems, with higher technology content, shorter lead times, and at a competitive cost.
  • Extend supply chain footprint to emerging markets.
  • Upgrade production capabilities and share more financial and operational risks with original equipment manufacturers

As the report points out these challenges have a downstream impact so all companies in the supply chain must become more robust and agile. Focusing on engineering processes and practices is imperative so not to add to the negative impact. Naturally, the more technology that comes into play the greater the product complexity and the higher demands on

  • Productivity
  • Quality
  • Collaboration
  • Speed-to-Market
  • Design reuse

It´s a tall order and to add to the frustration customers want a broader range and selection of products. In the case of the airlines this diverse range of aircraft models naturally will include an exponentially increasing amount of software. So how can the aircraft manufacturers bring all those elements together in a way that is profitable for all?

In essence mechanical, electrical, and software disciplines must intertwine to produce the fastest, cheapest and most best-in-class products on the market. That's why manufacturing leaders are increasingly adopting model-based systems engineering techniques that unify all stakeholders through a common, visual language and structured engineering approach.

The airline industry has long struggled with margins and now they are raising the stakes and improving profitability.  In response, the aircraft manufacturers are moving to these new technologies and approaches to increase productivity, quality and competitive advantage. It is only through the implementation of such techniques that suppliers will be able to meet the requirements and demands of the growing airline industry.

Case-in-point with Model-Based Systems Engineering

Rolls-Royce is one of the world’s leading producers of aero engines for large civil aircraft and corporate jets. They are the second largest provider of defense aero engines in the world and in the production of their engines and control systems.

In the case of Rolls-Royce, 15% of their engineering staff are systems engineers who apply and benefit from a model-based systems engineering approach. This approach has been instrumental in helping identifying problems early in the development stage which has led to a 20-40% reduction in the number of requirements and a 20-40% increase in reuse. This leads to massive savings for the company and means that productivity and quality is top notch.

In a collaboration webcast, Fran Thom (Head of the Software Centre of Excellence) explained how Rolls-Royce apply model-based approaches to systems engineering to enable cross-discipline collaboration.  The ‘whole system model’ is at the core, enabling Rolls-Royce deliver the products that their customers and business need.”

Watch the video to find out how Rolls-Royce apply these model based systems engineering principles >>

  • Windchill
  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Connected Devices

About the Author

Ailbhe Coughlan

Ailbhe Coughlan is working for the past 14 years with PTC in various marketing rolls spanning from MCAD, PLM to Retail, Footwear & Apparel. As Head of UK Marketing, her main focus was on Product Lifecycle Management marketing, as well as, the support for the Direct and Channel Sales/Marketing organization. Since October 2012, Ailbhe has been working in a corporate marketing role, today concentrating on Application Lifecycle Management. Her main focus is on projects that support key drivers for engineering executives. Topics range from Model-Based Systems Engineering to Requirements & Validation. Presently, Ailbhe is working closely on Agile principals for product development.