AoC number


Primary domain



Aircraft manufacturers are moving away from their traditional role as the single entity responsible for design and manufacturing to the role of an integrator/assembler. Large aircraft manufacturers are now in the role of integrating the processes and products from suppliers from all regions of the world. This is all the more important because many newly introduced aircraft are essentially derivatives of current and past types; Boeing and Airbus hold a de facto duopoly on aircraft designs, and both have focused more on updating existing aircraft than revamping designs (see AoC_280).

Knowledge of how these airplanes have been designed and manufactured has typically been resident in a single organization. In the future, manufacturers may delegate more of the design responsibility to partnering companies and equipment manufacturers in other regions of the world. Thanks to difficulties with the Boeing 787, or Dreamliner, and the high costs associated with it, design firms are revising their stance somewhat, supervising their manufacturers more closely to ensure quality.

The decentralization of design has led to complications. Production demands for aircraft are increasing, due in part to the opening of new world markets, but component suppliers can’t keep up on the production side. Furthermore, coordinating the delivery and assembly of parts from many different firms could be cumbersome.

Potential hazard

  1. Inadequate transfer of expertise and/or inadequate interface management
  2. Lessons learned from past experience may not be sufficiently covered by FARs and CSs, negatively impacting the effectiveness of performance-based oversight (see AoC_058).
  3. Dependence on single, specialty suppliers for a class of components by a number of manufacturers may create common-cause failures.
  4. Potential loss of a larger systems view and understanding of the total aircraft design.

Corroborating sources and comments

Strategic Destruction of the North American and European Commercial Aircraft Industry:

Implications of the System Integration Business Model

By David Pritchard and Alan MacPherson

Canada-United States Trade Center

Department of Geography

State University of New York

Buffalo, NY 14261

CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE CENTER OCCASIONAL PAPER NO. 35 (A state-of-affairs regarding aircraft supply systems, and one major problem thereof: as production demands increase, suppliers can’t keep up. Increased supervision of manufacturers is on the rise, thanks to difficulties with the Boeing 787.) (Prelude to the above; Boeing 787 was kept grounded due to frequent battery cell overheating. Airlines are focusing on updating existing models of aircraft.)

Last update

2017 (link with AoC 170, 280)