Cover: Reliability of Progress Curves in Airframe Production

Reliability of Progress Curves in Airframe Production

Published 1950

by Armen Albert Alchian

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This report presents a statistical study of the reliability of a given function for certain types of estimates in the aircraft industry and Air Force. It is indisputable that lower direct labor costs occur as the number of items produced increases. Questions can be raised, however:

  1. How long does this reduction continue?
  2. Can it be represented by a linear function on a double log scale?
  3. Does it fall at the same rate for all different airframe manufacturing facilities?
  4. How reliably can one predict marginal and total labor requirements for a production facility from an industry average progress curve derived from the experience of all airframe manufacturers?
  5. How reliably can a curve fitted to the experience of all bomber (fighter) production predict labor requirements for a specific type of bomber (fighter) produced in a particular facility?
  6. How reliable is a single manufacturing plant’s own early experience for predicting its later requirements for producing a particular kind of airframe?
  7. What may be the consequences of the margins of error involved in these estimating methods?

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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