Inventing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
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During the first century of flight, the focus of aerospace education has been on the methods of predicting lift and drag, with cost and schedule as dependent variables. Consequently, our engineers are very good at predicting performance, and aviation is one of the few areas where America sill has a favorable balance of trade. But America is facing new challenges as it works to adapt to the changing economy, energy, environmental and security demands of our nation. The mechanism for addressing these challenges during the next century of flight will be to focus education on achieving technical innovation with cost and schedule as independent variables and real constraints. This presentation will describe the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which illustrates how technical innovation and a Lean approach to aircraft design can assure continued aviation leadership in this next century of flight. The technical innovation involves designing three highly common, but identical, variants of the same aircraft, incorporating a novel turboshaft cycle for vertical takeoff and landing. The principles of Lean Manufacturing were applied to the design process in order to control cost and schedule. The Collier Trophy, which each year recognizes “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America” was awarded to the development team for these accomplishments.