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Systems Engineering

In the aircraft industry, the collective phrase for the information pertaining to the aircraft is “product definition.” As the product definition evolves, there are a number of challenges for the design team such as the following:

  • • how to manage the breakdown of tasks;
  • • how to maintain coherency of the product definition;
  • • how to manage the interfaces between parts of the aircraft.

Even a typical student group design project can thus become complex and need a disciplined approach.

The aerospace industry has, over the decades, developed a methodology called “systems engineering” to help manage complexity. A detailed explanation of systems engineering is beyond the scope of this book, but there are some core principles that should be adopted to help ensure that a design project progresses efficiently. The important principles include the following:

  • • creation of a clear work-breakdown structure (WBS);
  • • documentation of interface definitions;
  • • clear allocation of responsibilities;
  • • requirements flowdown;
  • • compliance testing.
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