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Decision support in the context of disruptive innovation

posted on 06.11.2020, 15:18 authored by Guy Schmidt
Aircraft design practices employed in the aerospace industry have historically focused on designing and evaluating new technologies, operations, and products based on satisfying metrics supplied directly from customer requirements. In this regard, existing evaluation processes often concerns the direct monetary effects on an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or customer (airline/operator) of any new concept, and do not consider important indirect and intangible effects (e.g. customer loyalty, innovation perception etc).
The purpose of this PhD research is to develop an understanding of the influence of a decision maker’s business strategy and their culture in the context of an aircraft purchase decision process, and to evaluate the potential impact these factors may have upon an airline’s propensity to purchase. Assessment of existing concept development methods identified a need for a more effective approach to the evaluation and assessment of aircraft concepts, because current methods failed to take account of the wider influences that affect the customer decision making process, leading to aircraft developments that resulted in a lack of product line interest and financial loss due to changing airline requirements.
A significant challenge faced by aerospace OEMs is the development of commercially viable aircraft that will deliver the required performance improvements on existing aircraft. This research investigated the decision-making processes involved in aircraft purchases, the development and identification of the airlines business strategy and culture and the impact of strategic and cultural influences on the decision to purchase. This study has produced a decision support approach accompanied by a Decision Influence Model (DIM) that captures these factors and aids the evaluation of the validity of future aircraft concepts as commercial and societal contexts change.
This research has taken place as part of an Innovate UK funded project (Agile Wing Integration project), which provides background and context for the work. It addresses the problem of identifying the main influencing factors in an airline’s decision to purchase a new aircraft, with particular reference to the impact of radical design changes on such decisions.
The majority of the work presented focuses on the development of the proposed solution comprising a novel decision support approach and a conceptual model (DIM). The proposed solution was initially scoped through exploratory analysis involving interviews and synthesis of the potential solution space. Following the initial exploration and development, two airlines were identified, and the decision support approach and concept model were applied to these for evaluation of the solution. The process and concept model were validated through SME review exercises.
The thesis concludes with a summary of work completed and an outline for potential future work that is possible due to this research.


Agile Wing Integration (AWI)

Innovate UK

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  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


Loughborough University

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© Guy Schmidt

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




Carys Siemieniuch ; Michael Henshaw

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