Civil and military aircraft are generally designed and used for transport, air to air, air to ground and reconnaissance missions. Contradictory performance requirements such as good flight performance, high survivability, high reconnaissance performance, all-weather capability as well as ecological and economic requirements such as environmental compatibility, economy and low acquisition costs are formulated, which have contradictory consequences for the design and inevitably lead to a compro-mise solution.
In general, the design or procurement of an aircraft is a process of selection decisions. Several alterna-tives are usually available from which the most suitable system for fulfilling a (several) mission(s) has to be determined. This is preceded by an integrated system evaluation of the resulting selection decision. In order to make such a selection decision in the design or procurement process as well as in the identification of capability gaps or the derivation of optimal system requirements, capabilities must be weighed up against each other. This requires a complicated evaluation process, which typically goes beyond what a decision maker can intuitively grasp and systematically or objectively process and thus evaluate.
On contrary to that, human decision makers have a finite ability to absorb and process information. Due to evolution, these abilities to grasp and understand complex decision-making situations holisti-cally are not sufficiently developed. In complex evaluation tasks such as the evaluation of airborne systems, human judgement is overwhelmed with its heuristics. An approach seems to be appropriate, that structures the complex assessment process methodically and derives the result transparently and prepares it in a reproducible manner. This motivates the provision of decision support systems for making transparent and reproducible decisions with computer-aided methods for system evaluation and selection.
Based on the contrast between the limited cognitive resources of the decision maker and the complexi-ty of a selection decision of airborne systems, such an approach was developed in this work, which enables a structured, mission-oriented assessment of aircraft. Based on the mission(s), descriptive capabilities are used together with criteria to determine a system performance potential for mission fulfillment. The composition of the result is prepared transparently for the decision maker and the evaluation and decision process is objectified and reproducible.
The underlying methodology consists of a macro concept – which provides the framework for the support system to derive a selection decision – and a micro concept – which serves as a database for the evaluation process and contains the necessary expert knowledge. In this work, the methodology is illustrated using the example of military aircraft comparisons and procurements.
This methodology has been implemented as a prototype and contains A-priori expert knowledge (e.g. metrics, weightings and preference functions), which has been developed in selected areas with experts (pilots, system specialists, decision makers) in the context of knowledge acquisition. This made it possible,
• to carry out mission-oriented system evaluations including an analysis of the evaluation re-sults to support selection decisions and to support the derivation of system requirements (which requirements must an aircraft fulfil in order to be "dominant" or "good enough"?),
• to perform a direct comparison of aircraft threat analyses, identify strengths and weaknesses and evaluate modifications.
The developed decision support system (DESFACE: DEcision Support Framework for AirCraft Evaluation) was validated in a use case scenario with appropriate decision makers. For this purpose, a reference procedure was implemented and also used by the test persons to process a complex evaluation task and derive a selection decision. A significant improvement for DESFACE could be proofed in the structured support of the evaluation process itself as well as in the result analysis for a platform-specific evaluation. Therefore, DESFACE is a useful approach that supports a mission-oriented, transparent, comprehensible, robust and objective assessment of aircraft. Furthermore, it could be shown that both the structure of the evaluation process as well as the traceability of the evaluation results and thus the degree of confidence in the results could be significantly increased. As a result, the decision makers expressed a clear desire to use this methodology to support current and future selec-tion decisions.
In summary, a decision support system for the derivation of a mission-oriented, holistic, structured and comprehensible selection decision of air-supported systems was conceived in this work, which represents a significant improvement to the previous procedure for the execution of a system evaluation and/or derivation of a selection decision.
Civil and military aircraft are generally designed and used for transport, air to air, air to ground and reconnaissance missions. Contradictory performance requirements such as good flight performance, high survivability, high reconnaissance performance, all-weather capability as well as ecological and economic requirements such as environmental compatibility, economy and low acquisition costs are formulated, which have contradictory consequences for the design and inevitably lead to a compro-mi... »