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In-service Design and Decommissioning

Very often, when a product reaches manufacture, the design process does not stop. Few products prove to be completely free of design faults when first produced, and, equally, it is common for operators to seek enhancements to designs throughout the life of a product. The lifetime of current aerospace systems can be extremely long, sometimes as much as 50 or even 60 years, and so this phase of design is commonly the longest, even if it is carried through with a relatively small team of engineers. Even when a product reaches the end of its life, it must be decommissioned and any waste disposed of or recycled. This process itself requires the input of designers, who may need to design specialist facilities to deal with waste or with stripping-down equipment. In our studies, because a series of UAVs have been designed and built, the in-service design function has been subsumed into redesign during the development of the next mark of airframe. Here no design effort has been given to decommissioning, though ease of maintainability and repair during operation has been a significant concern in the making of design decisions.

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