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VSTOL Aircraft market analysis

  • D. K. Howarth (a1)


This paper describes the market for air vehicles that offer Very Short Take Off and Landing (VSTOL) capabilities, also known as VSTOL aircraft. A commercial VSTOL aircraft will only succeed if it provides profits to both manufacturers and airlines. Being able to operate out of shorter fields offers airlines greater flexibility and therefore provides a benefit to the airline. However, adding VSTOL performance also adds cost. Successful VSTOL aircraft designs must balance the added cost against the additional benefits VSTOL performance will provide.

The first problem in any new VSTOL design is determining what field length provides the maximum benefit relative to cost. In order to be able to determine this one needs to know not only what it will cost to design and build the new aircraft, but its value to the airlines, as reflected by the demand for it and the price they are willing to pay. Only then is it possible to design the aeroplane the market wants at a sustainable price and in sufficient quantities to optimise the manufacturer’s return on investment.

This paper is a comprehensive parametric analysis of helicopters and aeroplanes that shows how much the market values short field performance by determining how much airline customers have been paying for it and how the market reacts to changes in its price. The analysis simultaneously considers over 230 currently produced models of fixed wing and rotary commercial aircraft, ranging in size from a Cessna 172 to an Airbus A380 and with balanced field lengths ranging from less than 150 to over 10,500ft.

The data show that a single, statistically significant demand curve exists for all of these vehicles, with prices that range across several orders of magnitude. This curve consists of several segments or sub-markets including those for regional and rotary wing aircraft. Both of those markets offer vehicles over a wide range of prices. The analysis shows that VSTOL price is a function of the balanced field length provided by the vehicles within these market segments. Comparing demand and sustained price against cost reveals particular field lengths for which it will be possible to make a profit building VSTOL aircraft.

Because the sustained price for a VSTOL aircraft is a function of its field length performance, and the quantity of a model sold is a function of its price, it follows that it is possible to predict the profit potential for a given VSTOL design in advance of its development. A thorough study of potential configurations therefore offers manufacturers the ability to design VSTOL aircraft that provide the maximum possible profit while fully satisfying the requirements of their airline customers.



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VSTOL Aircraft market analysis

  • D. K. Howarth (a1)


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