â€œSome people have been referring to the LCF as an â€˜uglyâ€™ airplane, but we have been able to take advantage of that in design,â€ LCF Senior Design Lead Steve Price says. He adds that because of the airplaneâ€™s mission, its detailed design does not require at least some of the expensive engineering solutions necessary in other airplanes. Cases in point: The use of doublers, or required extra layers of outer skin material, that are being designed for installation on the outside of the airplane rather than on the inside; and the use of button-head fasteners on the outside of the airplane in many places that would not be used in typical production models.
LCF Chief Project Engineer Kurt Kraft notes the engineering design on a program involving three modification airplanes â€œis much different than design on a traditional program that may involve hundreds of airplanes going through the factory.â€ Programs with a large production run may emphasize reducing weight or improving performance. But the focus on the LCF is to â€œfind optimal solutions very quickly and to greatly limit nonrecurring costs wherever we canâ€”to avoid designs that will require hard tooling, for example,â€ Kraft says. â€œWe are focused on providing a safe and reliable airplane that will meet all of the requirements of its mission.â€
So, it's not the prettiest bird, but there's solid reasoning about why this is so: they wanted to build it cheaply and quickly, and since they weren't building a lot of them, it didn't make sense to go to any great lengths to make it pretty.