A decision support framework for aircraft conceptual design in the presence of competition

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Miller, Michael Z.
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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Most conceptual design techniques for aircraft implicitly assume that the aircraft manufacturer operates in a monopoly. This is because these techniques do not directly account for the possible actions of a competitor. By examining several motivating examples from the aviation industry, it was determined that in the presence of a competitor the design of an aircraft can be impacted. Therefore, current design approaches were deemed lacking because they do not account for the fact that aircraft markets are best characterized as a duopoly where two manufacturers are competing for market share. It was also determined that most forms of competition can be categorized as technology infusions or enterprise-based solutions. There was a need identified to determine how to select an appropriate strategy in the presence of competition. This problem is further complicated by the inherent uncertainty that exists in designing an aircraft compounded with the lack of perfect knowledge of a competitor. The main objective of this dissertation was to construct a framework for facilitating the direct comparison between an aircraft design and a competitor's design during the early phases of conceptual design. This framework should parametrically account for design considerations and possible competitive strategies in an integrated environment to not only analyze the physical performance of an aircraft, but also the economic viability for a given market. This lead to the development of the Competition-influenced Decision Support (CoDeS) Framework, which allows for the interactive exploration of competitive strategies using exploratory or normative forecasting. These strategies were assessed using a validated modeling and simulation environment by implementing the established technique of k-factors to represent technology strategies and the developed technique of $\lambda$-factors to represent enterprise strategies. In order to gain a clear understanding about the interdependencies that exist between an aircraft design, a competitor's design, and competitive strategies (technology and enterprise), the effects of uncertainty were mitigated using a two-step approach. First, the large variability from the effects of uncertainty where mitigated by using scenario-based analysis. Secondly, a hybrid formulation using a modified Taguchi's signal-to-noise ratio approach combined with a multi-criteria decision making technique. Two techniques were considered: an overall evaluation criterion and the technique for ordered preferences by similarity to ideal solution to compare strategies between two aircraft competing for market share. Finally, the CoDeS Framework was implemented for three use cases in order to demonstrate its capabilities. The first use case examined an exploratory forecasting approach for analyzing a proposed enterprise strategy. The second use case examined normative forecasting of enterprise strategies in order to determine a minimum threshold for a competitive strategy. Finally, the third use case examined a hypothetical scenario of two aircraft manufacturers trying to enter the Asian market -- in this scenario, one manufacturer competes using technologies and the other competes using a maintenance-based enterprise strategy. The completion of this research yielded a parametric, integrated framework that can be used interactively in order to assess the effects of competition during the conceptual design of an aircraft.
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