The Development of the F100-PW-220 and F110-GE-100 Engines

A Case Study of Risk Assessment and Risk Management

by Frank Camm, Thomas K. Glennan, Jr.

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The “Great Engine War” pitted Pratt and Whitney and General Electric against one another to supply engines for the Air Force’s new F-15 and F-16 fighters. This acquisition used “derivative” engines — engines that incorporated small changes in selected parts of existing engines to greatly improve operability, durability, and the operating and support costs of fighter engines. Camm concludes that four factors were important in the assessment and management of risk and thus in the exceptional success of these development programs: (1) the low level of technological risk posed by the derivative developments undertaken, (2) the use of competition to motivate the contractors, (3) the considerable experience of the managers overseeing the developments, and (4) the nature of the contracts. In the latter, the scopes of work focused on how development was conducted, not on products. This facilitated monitoring progress.

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