Gaining Competitive Advantage By Using Rapid Prototyping in Aircraft Modification
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Raytheon-Waco (formerly Chrysler Technologies Airborne Systems) is an aircraft modification facility in Waco, TX, specializing in military, executive, and head-of-state aircraft modifications. Raytheon-Waco has over 25 years of aircraft modification experience, and is a leading contractor for major US and foreign government programs that require system design, airframe modification, installation, flight testing, and post-delivery technical and logistical support. Current programs at Raytheon-Waco include foreign government Head-of-State widebody aircraft modifications consisting ofluxury interiors, secure communications, and airframe modifications, and US and foreign military aircraft modifications involving electronics, communications, avionics, and airframe modifications. The aircraft modification industry is highly competitive, with a variety of very competent companies constantly trying to increase market share and move into new markets. RaytheonWaco has focused primarily on military communications and transport aircraft, and Head-ofState wide-body aircraft. Due to increasing competition and customer cost-conscientiousness, Raytheon-Waco is working to reduce cost and cycle time while maintaining its reputation for delivering on time and within budget. There is also movement into other markets, such as lowercost wide-body executive aircraft. Raytheon-Waco is currently transitioning to a paperless design process, with the ultimate goal of performing all design, analysis, manufacturing, and aircraft installation from CAD models without requiring paper drawings. Increased use of electronic models will also allow more parallel processes to be performed, eliminating many of the sequential design steps currently required. Among the steps that will be performed in parallel will be detailed design, manufacturing and installation planning, technical publications, and design analysis. Without improved initial designs, parallel work will only lead to increased rework and wasted effort. Rapid prototyping is a key factor in reducing risks associated with concurrent processes, and its benefits are critical to efforts to reduce the cost and schedule of future aircraft modifications.