Re: 2 vs 4 engines: R&D costs too much ?

Date:         16 Sep 99 16:42:52 
From:         Don Stauffer <>
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I'm old enough to have seen this question come up several times before.
There was always another breakthrough that came along  :-)

Although my original intent was to go into propulsion, my career path
led me into avionics, so I cannot be considered a propulsion pro.

However, after working with many powerplant associates, I can make a
number of general statements.

Most propulsion guys, and many of the airframers also, claim all major
advances in aviation come from new engine technology.  They said it
often enough, and gave me good enough examples, that I have come to
believe it.

Look in a current Janes.  Look at the number of countries with an
indigenous airframe industry.  Now look in the back for the number of
countries that have an indigenous engine industry.

Engine advances used to come primarily from military needs and military
R & D.  Costs associated with such R & D, however, have risen to point
where new generations of aircraft come along less frequently than
generations of humans.  Commercial aviation people can no longer wait
for next military technology, and are starting to do much more
fundamental development than previously.

A good thing to understand in terms of military aviation costs is
Augustine's law. Norm Augustine was a brilliant aerospace type who at
one time was CEO of Martin, and at another time president of AIAA.  He
also sat or chaired a number of government defense advisory panels. His
book was very entertaining to read, and very funny, but he was speaking
truth with humor.  One law said that the increasing cost of fighter
aircraft showed cost of a fighter aircraft was increasing at a faster
rate than the DOD budget.  He predicted in some year (I forget the year)
the curves would cross, and the Defense Department would only be able to
buy one airplane.  The Air Force and Navy would have to take turns
flying it :-)

Now, the whole point of this tirad is- past experience would prove the
original poster wrong.  BUT- remember, in the fable of the little boy
who cried wolf, in the end there really was a wolf.  The past is a good
guidance, but is only one thing to consider.  I am starting to worry
that the original post may be RIGHT!

Don Stauffer in Minneapolis