Aircraft as a System of Systems: A Business Process Perspective, written by Sean Barker, FBCS CEng and a former research scientist at BAE Systems in the UK, explains how developing even simple parts like a lever needs several different types of knowledge before moving on to the complications of designing a system.
Today’s airframers have taken on more of the role of systems integrators, putting the focus on the aircraft as a system-of-many-systems. Whereas an aircraft integrates many different systems into a single design, the system of systems which supports it is built by federating the systems of the different organizations, which were built and run independently of each other.
Aircraft as a System of Systems: A Business Process Perspective provides a thorough analysis of how building aircraft taps into a huge pool of knowledge, how its complexity is also reflected in the numerous process links that exchange knowledge between different groups. But unlike conventional business processes, design processes do not follow one step after another – rather, a decision made at one point in the design is communicated to other areas of the design, which may in turn feed back new constraints that force the first decision to be revised.