Product complexity in the aerospace industry has grown fast while design procedures and techniques did not keep pace. Product life cycle implications are largely neglected during the early design phase. Also, aerospace designers fail to optimize products for the intended operational environment. This study shows how a design, simulated within its anticipated operational environment, can inform about critical design parameters, thereby creating a more targeted design improving the chance of commercial success. An agent-based operational simulation for civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicles conducting maritime Search-and-Rescue missions is used to design and optimize aircrafts. Agent interactions with their environment over the product life-cycle are shown to lead to unexpected model outputs. Unique insights into the optimal design are gained by analysis of the operational performance of the aircraft within its simulated environment
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