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kitplane01
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Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:05 am

What’s the most expensive part of an aircraft or its engines? And how much does that cost?

My best guess would either be a blisk on a large turbine engine, or the biggest forging on the main landing gear on the a380.

Rules:

Has to be an indivisible part. So “landing gear” or “wing spar” don’t count because they are constructed from smaller components. But the largest forging on the landing gear would count.

Has to be an aircraft currently in production with over 300 sold.

Not military.
 
7H4
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:26 am

I've heard (unsure on the truth so take it how you want) that a single fan blade on a 737 MAX is approximately $30k.
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battlegroup62
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:05 am

I know that an IDG for an E-jet lists for $650k
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lutfi
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:11 am

I would say the RAT - but the IDG is a good call.
 
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NameOmitted
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:13 am

The aircraft data plate.
 
captainmeeerkat
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:21 am

I'd guess the pilot. Selection and training costs, recurrent training...and then (usually!) a big yearly salary on top of that! :duck: :duck:
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PVD757
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 am

The flux capacitor.
 
ryan78
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 am

Rolls Royce A330 Engines go for $14+ million a piece. Technically it isn't visible because its covered by the cowlings which go from $800k for the Nose Cowl Inlet, and around $1.2-1.6 million for the C-Duct and Nozzle Assembly on A330's. A single fan blade on an A330 RR engine goes for just under $55k. 737 APU's are just a tick under $1 million as well. There are also many critical computer components that are upwards of $100k but I can't remember which systems they are. I've seen O-Rings valued at over $100 for something the size of an Oreo cookie. Aircraft parts manufacturing is a very, VERY lucrative business.
 
StTim
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:38 am

Have you ever costed how much it would be if you purchased spare parts for your car engine in order to build a replacement. Eye watering.
 
flipdewaf
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:14 am

I have no idea but this is a really good question!

I did a summer job at a composites factory when I was 18. One thing we used to make were little rubber wedges, I believe they were for putting in the engine to stop thing rattling. The story goes that the rubber skins that were bonded to the core were £0.02 and the core was £0.20. we would then sell them to another company for £2 and they would add a metal part so the hammer wouldn't break it. They sold it to the engine Manf. for £20 whereby it went in a catalogue of parts and they would sell to the airlines/maintenance companies for £200. Don't know how true it is but its a good story.

Fred
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FatCat
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:19 am

I think that we should think in proportion: an engine, although being very expensive, is quite a piece of machinery for the price asked.
Instead, it would be interesting to think at the price in proportion. I think one of the most expensive piece part of an airplane, in proportion, are first the tires and second the disc brake packs, being indivisible parts, part of the undercarriage. But it's just a guess.
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TutiFruiti
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:40 am

Fan blades as mentioned above are most expensive individual part.
 
Eikie
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:16 pm

captainmeeerkat wrote:
I'd guess the pilot. Selection and training costs, recurrent training...and then (usually!) a big yearly salary on top of that! :duck: :duck:

Most of the selection and training costs are a one time expense, or not frequently. Those costs and the salary you can divide by the number of flights (planes) they do per year to get the cost per airplane per year.
An expensive idg, for example, is tied to one plane only.

But what is a part, an idg consists of parts, so does an engine.
Is software a part, it sure is expensive though.
 
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SEPilot
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:24 pm

It is no longer in production, but the banjo fittings for the #2 engine on the DC-10/MD-11 have to be in contention. It is a huge titanium piece that is cast and then machined. I have read that one reason the MD-11 failed was that they just could not afford to redo them for a larger diameter fan.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
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Loran
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:51 pm

Talking of components, in the A320 it would be the IDG currently listed at USD 506'440 (however there are usually certain discounts vs. the list price). Next in line is the GPWC (USD 327k) and ADIRU (USD 300k).

Only the APU and main landing gears list as higher, however they'd be excluded as per the OP's definition.

Regards,
Loran
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Redwood839
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:53 pm

StTim wrote:
Have you ever costed how much it would be if you purchased spare parts for your car engine in order to build a replacement. Eye watering.


I rebuilt the engine on my 08 CBR1000RR. The parts new from Honda weren't that much. The time spent rebuilding is a whole different story.
 
LTN12
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:12 pm

Engine control unit or EEC = $500k or thereabouts
 
SGSnow
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:15 pm

ryan78 wrote:
Rolls Royce A330 Engines go for $14+ million a piece. Technically it isn't visible because its covered by the cowlings which go from $800k for the Nose Cowl Inlet, and around $1.2-1.6 million for the C-Duct and Nozzle Assembly on A330's. A single fan blade on an A330 RR engine goes for just under $55k. 737 APU's are just a tick under $1 million as well. There are also many critical computer components that are upwards of $100k but I can't remember which systems they are. I've seen O-Rings valued at over $100 for something the size of an Oreo cookie. Aircraft parts manufacturing is a very, VERY lucrative business.


Think you meant the Trent 700 engines as not all A330s use the Trent 700.


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747Whale
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:46 pm

SEPilot wrote:
I have read that one reason the MD-11 failed was that they just could not afford to redo them for a larger diameter fan.


The MD-11 didn't fail, and is still going strong.
 
747Whale
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:47 pm

A fuel control unit costs considerably more than a fan blade
 
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SEPilot
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:17 pm

747Whale wrote:
SEPilot wrote:
I have read that one reason the MD-11 failed was that they just could not afford to redo them for a larger diameter fan.


The MD-11 didn't fail, and is still going strong.

I don’t know what your definition of failure is, but to me an airliner that saw a total production run of 200, and was withdrawn from passenger service very early by most operators and having only 121 of them still flying as of last July (none in passenger service) after 29 years since it was put in service, and has managed to accumulate the absolute worst safety record of any modern airliner qualifies in my book.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
747Whale
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:42 pm

The fact that it's still going strong and making money states otherwise.

The airplane doesn't have a bad safety record. Those who flew it into the wrecks that occurred did. The aircraft didn't do that. The pilots did.
 
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Faro
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:12 pm

LTN12 wrote:
Engine control unit or EEC = $500k or thereabouts



Definitely the priciest piece of avionics, yes...but perhaps IDG’s are even more expensive than that...


Faro
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trpmb6
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:52 pm

Putting a limit on being Indivisible makes it difficult to discuss this.

The section 41 composite barrel of the 787 is technically one piece once it comes out of the autoclave. Should we call that one part? Or do you want to say that it isn't because it's many multiples of carbon fiber tape?

A single fan blade is likely not the most expensive part for the record.



(Yes I know that is the prestuffed barrel and not just the composite piece itself)
 
gokmengs
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:19 pm

What an interesting topic, if you could excuse me can I ask what an IDG stands for? Also can other helpful posters not write in acronyms or explain them for the non engineer souls like me thanks:)
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AirKevin
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:23 pm

gokmengs wrote:
What an interesting topic, if you could excuse me can I ask what an IDG stands for? Also can other helpful posters not write in acronyms or explain them for the non engineer souls like me thanks:)

Integrated Drive Generator. To be fair, I'm no engineer, either, but this is an aviation website.
Captain Kevin
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:24 pm

gokmengs wrote:
What an interesting topic, if you could excuse me can I ask what an IDG stands for? Also can other helpful posters not write in acronyms or explain them for the non engineer souls like me thanks:)


Integrated Drive Generator. It is a device which generates electrical energy from a variable speed source such as a turbine. It uses a gearbox to give a constant electrical output from varying rotational inputs. Typically found in the accessories of a modern jet engine.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Redbellyguppy
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:56 pm

I am the most expensive thing on my aircraft.

Over the course of my 20 year so far career I’ve put a hundred grand of my own money into training. Initial on seven types @ 50k each is 350,000. Recurrent probably another 100k at least. My actions are also insured by my employer for 2 billion dollars in case I should cause a hull loss. So yeah. Because of my experience and judgement, I’m worth 2.5 billion. And there’s two of us at least.
 
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Berevoff
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:06 pm

Why exactly are EECs and IDGs so expensive?

Is the the manufacturing requirements or the R&D costs or what?
 
bhill
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:24 pm

Funny...this reads just like the price book of Big Pharma......
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Horstroad
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:19 pm

trpmb6 wrote:
Putting a limit on being Indivisible makes it difficult to discuss this.

The section 41 composite barrel of the 787 is technically one piece once it comes out of the autoclave. Should we call that one part? Or do you want to say that it isn't because it's many multiples of carbon fiber tape?


I would suggest anything that has a removal/installation task in the AMM but cannot be broken down any further using only the AMM.

This would exclude section 41 of the B787 as there probably isn't a removal/installation task in the AMM. This would also exclude engines and landing gears etc because you could remove fan blades, wheels and brakes and other accessories. The bare core engine without anything on it or the shock strut cylinder would count though.

Here are some parts I looked up:

B777 Fan Blade - $175.000 (surprisingly cheap)
MD11 ECU - $366.000
MD11 Display Unit - $487.000 (surprisingly expensive)
MD11 IDG - $743.000
MD11 Flight Control Computer - $763.000
B777 engine inlet - $2.000.000 (this one surprised me as well)
 
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trpmb6
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:09 pm

I know of many machined parts that cost far more than those.

Once worked on a steel chord for an engine pylon that cost $80,000. And I still don't believe that to be the most expensive part.
 
gtae07
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:02 am

Berevoff wrote:
Why exactly are EECs and IDGs so expensive?

Is the the manufacturing requirements or the R&D costs or what?


Yes. Plus certification costs (paperwork), liability, etc.

But also, low unit volumes. An airliner with a production run of 1000 or so airframes may only have 3000-4000 or so of a given component made (to generally high standards, and with lots of paperwork at every step of the process) over the lifetime of the program.

That's peanuts by comparison to so many other things. Volume matters.

Ford made over 900,000 F150 trucks last year. That's entire trucks. No, not as complex as an airliner, but definitely more complex as a whole than most individual parts of said airliner. That's orders of magnitude more items. They're able to take advantage of highly automated production processes and a developed industrial supply base (and they aren't hamstrung with nearly the amount of paperwork).

Aircraft parts (especially light aircraft parts) also have a significant insurance and liability cost added in. Car manufacturers do too, but they get somewhat shielded by individual driver's insurance and also the sheer volume of production. With light aircraft there aren't those buffers or profit margins. I've seen it variously estimated that liability costs account for somewhere between 10% and 30% of the cost of light aircraft engines, for example.
 
Yikes!
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:28 am

Notwithstanding the rules as determined by the thread author, the most expensive part of the airplane is the most variable part: Its crew. Everything, and I mean EVERYthing on board that aircraft depends on the crew operating it. Doesn't take much to write off an entire airframe. Look at Air France.

Easy answer to the question asked? The crew, especially the pilots.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:03 am

Horstroad wrote:
trpmb6 wrote:
Putting a limit on being Indivisible makes it difficult to discuss this.

The section 41 composite barrel of the 787 is technically one piece once it comes out of the autoclave. Should we call that one part? Or do you want to say that it isn't because it's many multiples of carbon fiber tape?


I would suggest anything that has a removal/installation task in the AMM but cannot be broken down any further using only the AMM.

This would exclude section 41 of the B787 as there probably isn't a removal/installation task in the AMM. This would also exclude engines and landing gears etc because you could remove fan blades, wheels and brakes and other accessories. The bare core engine without anything on it or the shock strut cylinder would count though.

Here are some parts I looked up:

B777 Fan Blade - $175.000 (surprisingly cheap)
MD11 ECU - $366.000
MD11 Display Unit - $487.000 (surprisingly expensive)
MD11 IDG - $743.000
MD11 Flight Control Computer - $763.000
B777 engine inlet - $2.000.000 (this one surprised me as well)


First .. awesome thanks wonderful.

Second, are engine inlets about the most likely thing to get attacked by angry birds flying past. Does a bird dent an inlet, or they made of super-material.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:42 am

Birds aren't really homing in on a an airliner in flight, so I think the impact location is rather random. Following that logic, the likelihood of impact on any given part is all about relative front facing surface area. So the most likely impact location is the leading edge of the wing since it is the "part" with by far the biggest front facing area.

The leading edges of wing, stabiliser and fin, as well as the engine inlet edge, are made of metal, or at least have a metal outer layer. The windshield is made of rather solid multi-pane glass. These are less likely to take damage from a bird than the radome, which is made of composite, or the fan blades. But sure, any part can be dented if the impact is forceful enough. The larger the bird and the higher the speed...
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
tepidhalibut
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:28 am

kitplane01 wrote:
Does a bird dent an inlet, or they made of super-material.


Show me an intake that can shrug off all possible impacts with nary a scratch....and I'll show you an intake that's overdesigned for 99.99...% of flights. In practice, the material / thickness used will mean that all likely impacts will be survived.

Arguably, you want the parts to show some level of impact damage. It guides the maintenance folk on where to check for damage after impact events.
 
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trpmb6
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Re: Most expensive aircraft part

Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:31 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
Birds aren't really homing in on a an airliner in flight, so I think the impact location is rather random. Following that logic, the likelihood of impact on any given part is all about relative front facing surface area. So the most likely impact location is the leading edge of the wing since it is the "part" with by far the biggest front facing area.

The leading edges of wing, stabiliser and fin, as well as the engine inlet edge, are made of metal, or at least have a metal outer layer. The windshield is made of rather solid multi-pane glass. These are less likely to take damage from a bird than the radome, which is made of composite, or the fan blades. But sure, any part can be dented if the impact is forceful enough. The larger the bird and the higher the speed...



Leading edges of the wing, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, engine lip skin (the leading edge of the inlet), radome, windshield and surrounding structure are all tested for bird strike per the FARS. Fan blades are also tested, but somewhat different, they are broken into two separate events, an initial fan blade out due to a bird strike (or other reasons such as simple fatigue cracking like what happened with the fatal Southwest Airlines flight resulting in a broken window) followed by a windmilling test with an imbalanced fan. In some cases we will even test pitot tubes, angle of attack vanes, etc, as required.

In all cases a successful test only requires that the structure remains intact enough for safe return. This usually means the lip skins, leading edges etc will have caved in, cracked or even peeled away. Usually the criteria is to not allow failure or penetration of the first primary structural element such as a spar (wing/empennage) or frame (cockpit window surround structure) or cracking beyond the first window pane of the windshield. Some aircraft employ what they call a "bird splitter" behind leading edges of structure to help divert the energy. I think there are some youtube videos out there of how they work. Pretty... gruesome... so be warned.

Suffice to say, do NOT watch the mythbusters episode on bird strike. They didn't follow any of the regulations. You can't shoot an 8 pound bird at a small cessna plane. That episode is regularly mocked in the industry.

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