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BAE Systems to provide flight control system for supersonic AS2 business jet

Yokel

LE
I did think of putting this in the Manufacturing in the UK thread.

UK Defence Journal Story

BAE Systems are set to design, develop, and integrate a fly-by-wire flight control system for the new AS2 aircraft.

BAE Systems say they have received a contract from Aerion Supersonic to supply the flight control system for its new AS2 supersonic business jet. BAE Systems will design, develop, and integrate a fly-by-wire flight control system, including active inceptors, for the new aircraft.

“We are leveraging decades of expertise and advanced technologies to architect a flight control system that will enable the future of flight,” Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions for BAE Systems, was quoted as saying in a news release.

“We are proud to be collaborating with Aerion Supersonic on this next-generation flight control system for the AS2 aircraft.”

The new flight control system adds to BAE Systems’ more than 40 years of experience developing and integrating fly-by-wire systems.

“The system builds on the company’s proven core technology, but uses smaller and lighter components to allow for integration on the AS2 aircraft. The system will comprise active inceptors, primary flight control computers, actuator control units, and remote electronics units.”
 
I did think of putting this in the Manufacturing in the UK thread.

UK Defence Journal Story

BAE Systems are set to design, develop, and integrate a fly-by-wire flight control system for the new AS2 aircraft.

BAE Systems say they have received a contract from Aerion Supersonic to supply the flight control system for its new AS2 supersonic business jet. BAE Systems will design, develop, and integrate a fly-by-wire flight control system, including active inceptors, for the new aircraft.

“We are leveraging decades of expertise and advanced technologies to architect a flight control system that will enable the future of flight,” Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions for BAE Systems, was quoted as saying in a news release.

“We are proud to be collaborating with Aerion Supersonic on this next-generation flight control system for the AS2 aircraft.”

The new flight control system adds to BAE Systems’ more than 40 years of experience developing and integrating fly-by-wire systems.

“The system builds on the company’s proven core technology, but uses smaller and lighter components to allow for integration on the AS2 aircraft. The system will comprise active inceptors, primary flight control computers, actuator control units, and remote electronics units.”

Since it's a big paying private endeavor, BAES are far far more likely to actually deliver. Private industry tend to hold the buggers to account.
 

Yokel

LE
Does private industry change the specifications every five minutes at the behest of badly informed and self important politicians with cognitive myopia?

If it was not for the contracts that BAE Systems insisted on then badly informed, self important and myopic politicians would have ended Britain's days as a maritime power, just in time for BREXIT and renewed tensions with Russia and a need to protect sea lines of communication.
 

Tyk

LE
Does private industry change the specifications every five minutes at the behest of badly informed and self important politicians with cognitive myopia?

If it was not for the contracts that BAE Systems insisted on then badly informed, self important and myopic politicians would have ended Britain's days as a maritime power, just in time for BREXIT and renewed tensions with Russia and a need to protect sea lines of communication.

Sadly true.

I had the great "pleasure" of being drafted in to review some of those contracts as part of the BAES LCM (project gate methodology, sounds poncy, but it actually works as a way for fresh, mostly independent eyes to pickup problems) review process. I also did some stuff for a bit of submarine widgetry as I was working for Air Sector at the time, had the right background to read the technical specs and was nothing to do with the folk at Barrow. I had bugger all idea of what it did and didn't ask for obvious reasons.

Air and Sea sector projects were hugely bedevilled by MoD, inspired senior officers and Politicians farting about with requirements all the bloody time with no concept that each bit of fannying about costs heaps of time and money.
That was heavily curtailed (you can never exclude it) by writing iron clad contracts that make it more expensive to abandon a project part way in than to finish it. It had a lot to do with the fact that these projects need to staff, train and in many cases tool up and order materials well in advance before the construction takes place. Basically the front loading of cost is monumental for the likes of BAES where they build very few of any one item. Anyone who's worked in prototyping and making stuff knows that without volume the costs of anything complex are unavoidably ludicrous.
 
Sadly true.

I had the great "pleasure" of being drafted in to review some of those contracts as part of the BAES LCM (project gate methodology, sounds poncy, but it actually works as a way for fresh, mostly independent eyes to pickup problems) review process. I also did some stuff for a bit of submarine widgetry as I was working for Air Sector at the time, had the right background to read the technical specs and was nothing to do with the folk at Barrow. I had bugger all idea of what it did and didn't ask for obvious reasons.

Air and Sea sector projects were hugely bedevilled by MoD, inspired senior officers and Politicians farting about with requirements all the bloody time with no concept that each bit of fannying about costs heaps of time and money.
That was heavily curtailed (you can never exclude it) by writing iron clad contracts that make it more expensive to abandon a project part way in than to finish it. It had a lot to do with the fact that these projects need to staff, train and in many cases tool up and order materials well in advance before the construction takes place. Basically the front loading of cost is monumental for the likes of BAES where they build very few of any one item. Anyone who's worked in prototyping and making stuff knows that without volume the costs of anything complex are unavoidably ludicrous.
I don’t believe that an “iron clad” contract is anything other than a unicorn. It doesn’t and can’t exist.

The requirement is only ever a snapshot of the contract writers interpretation of the actual need on the day it was written. The contractors offer is only ever the bid teams interpretation of what was written down in the tender. There are way too many variables and points of interpretation for a contract ever to be “iron clad”; the inevitability is that it will clad the wrong requirement in iron.
 

Tyk

LE
I don’t believe that an “iron clad” contract is anything other than a unicorn. It doesn’t and can’t exist.

The requirement is only ever a snapshot of the contract writers interpretation of the actual need on the day it was written. The contractors offer is only ever the bid teams interpretation of what was written down in the tender. There are way too many variables and points of interpretation for a contract ever to be “iron clad”; the inevitability is that it will clad the wrong requirement in iron.

You're incorrect I'm afraid.

Requirements gathering is a well defined process in many industries (not all obviously) and it's part of the proper project governance from the customer and prime supplier, what you're describing is largely sloppy practice or the belief of the people that act like Agile is a religion rather than a bit of a cop out for being woolly.
Proper requirements are a time consuming and expensive element in themselves and for major investments the supplier will be charging a significant lump of cash for the work done with the customer, all done long before final contracts are drafted and signed.
In some fields being woolly is fine, in others it's just a route to horrific cost and time spirals.

In the case of aerospace, naval shipping of and military sat coms it's very much the latter and it is entirely possible to make the final contracts downright iron clad with the mutually agreed requirements embedded, penalties for deviation from either party and cancellation clauses of more than the contract value with time and completion percentage gates, I've seen them and helped to write them, they're produced with teams of lawyers, commercial and technical specialists and run to monumental length. The BAES-Saudi support contracts physically filled a large conference room. I won't say how large the Astrium contract for Skynet5 is or the NATO HQ ones for that matter.

I know you've been in business for some time yourself, but in the case of what's being discussed in this thread you're either ill informed or being rather simplistic.
 
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You're incorrect I'm afraid.

Requirements gathering is a well defined process in many industries (not all obviously) and it's part of the proper project governance from the customer and prime supplier, what you're describing is largely sloppy practice or the belief of the people that act like Agile is a religion rather than a bit of a cop out for being woolly.
Proper requirements are a time consuming and expensive element in themselves and for major investments the supplier will be charging a significant lump of cash for the work done with the customer, all done long before final contracts are drafted and signed.
In some fields being woolly is fine, in others it's just a route to horrific cost and time spirals.

In the case of aerospace, naval shipping of and military sat coms it's very much the latter and it is entirely possible to make the final contracts downright iron clad with the mutually agreed requirements embedded, penalties for deviation from either party and cancellation clauses of more than the contract value with time and completion percentage gates, I've seen them and helped to write them, they're produced with teams of lawyers, commercial and technical specialists and run to monumental length. The BAES-Saudi support contracts physically filled a large conference room. I won't say how large the Astrium contract for Skynet5 is or the NATO HQ ones for that matter.

I know you've been in business for some time yourself, but in the case of what's being discussed in this thread you're either ill informed or being rather simplistic.
I may be being simplistic, but I am describing an inherent characteristic of all adversarial contracting. And all government contracting is adversarial. However much you invest in assuring the requirement, it can only ever be a snapshot on the day the contract is signed. However much you invest in watertight clauses, they are only watertight for the issues they are written to manage. Your initial post highlighted one of the central issues; stakeholders with low involvement in the program but high influence over it can significantly change the basic assumptions on which the contract was agreed.

The other fundamental issue with contracts that fill a room is that they are way too unwieldy. No-one can possibly know or understand every clause or requirement. Once again, you have the human element of interpretation.

Alfred Blossom’s book Building to the Skies; the Romance of the Skyscraper” is as relevant today as it was when written in 1934. In it, he identified the fundamental flaws of adversarial contracting.

The only people who think that contracts are watertight are the people who write them. Ask anyone delivering said watertight contract five years down the track if it was watertight and you’ll get a different answer.

BTW I’ve worked in public contracting in defence (including naval), railways (big new ones). B2B I’ve worked in oil & gas and education.
 

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