An analysis of the effect of a reliability paradigm shift on leading British aerospace companies



The aerospace industry is moving towards a new paradigm for the statement of reliability specifications. This paradigm is not a technical metric inherent to a system in isolation, but rather encompasses the wider objectives, operational profile and logistic priorities of its customer. This customer focus is encapsulated in the metrics Failure Free Operating Period and Maintenance Free Operating Period. These metrics describe the duration of effective system operation, in the first case for systems where faults and maintenance are permitted and in the second for systems where faults may not be repaired. As part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) funded Aerospace Project for Insertion of Reliability (ASPIRE) research programme, which itself is part of the Ultra Reliable Aircraft (URA) programme, representatives of leading aerospace companies were interviewed about their opinion n how this new reliability paradigm and associated concepts would affect their way of doing business and their engineering processes. It would appear that the aerospace industry is ready for a move to a more realistic set of reliability metrics and away from the old style MTBF based metrics. This sea change would most likely be welcomed by customers, but as yet the manufacturing companies are unconvinced that such a radical move would be a good thing. Much of the resistance to change is due to old-fashioned, but well entrenched, beliefs in the traditional way of doing things. A move away from this would bring freshness to the industry and lead to cost and time savings as the traditional approach is dropped in favour of a more planned and thought out approach. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.