Aircraft are, without question, very complicated pieces of machinery. The process of producing one can seem overwhelming and practically impossible. However, when you break it down to its basic steps, the production of an airplane is easy to understand. The three steps of aircraft production are design, construction, and assembly.
The first step in producing an aircraft is the design stage. This is the time when the objectives and specifications are established. Most companies use computers to plan the design, creating drawings and equations to test the abilities of the aircraft. After this comes a series of rigorous simulations to test the specifications of the aircraft. In this process, computers simulate the performance of the aircraft and small models are built to test in wind tunnels, giving an indication of the plane’s aerodynamic tendencies.
Once design is complete, the next stage is construction. Each aircraft is made up of a number of components, and each component is made of thousands of parts. Because of the complexity and importance of proper construction, the process must adhere to strict regulations and standards. While there are only a few major aircraft manufacturers, the construction process often involves many other companies responsible for making parts and components for use in the aircraft.
After construction of the many parts and components, they are inspected and sent to the production line. This is where, at last, the final stage of assembly can take place. Frequently a plant will have separate production lines dedicated to certain parts of the aircraft, such as the wings or fuselage of large planes. After all the parts are assembled and inspected, the plane embarks on a series of flight tests ensuring the performance of the plane is tip-top. Upon completion of these tests, the plane is ready for its final touch ups including internal configuration or cosmetic work. From here, the airplane is sent to the customers and is ready to take to the skies.