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Airframe Cost Model Calculator

This calculator requires the use of Javascript enabled and capable browsers. The Airframe Cost Model is a simple on-line model for estimating the development and production costs of aircraft airframes that is suitable for use in a program's conceptual stage when little detailed information is available. This particular model was used as a teaching aid for developers and project leaders within NASA at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). It is neither classified nor is it under any copyright; it is available to the general public by request to NASA. NASA assumes no liability for the use of information or techniques in this program, nor do we. The model provides separate CERs for the following major cost elements:
Non-recurring engineering
Non-recurring tooling
Development support
Flight test
Recurring engineering
Recurring tooling
Recurring manufacturing labor
Recurring manufacturing material
Recurring quality assurance
The model was derived from a database consisting of 13 military aircraft with first flight dates ranging from 1960 to 1978: A-6, A-7, A-10, C-5, C-141, F-4, F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, F-111, S-3A, and T-39. Empty weights for the sample aircraft range from under 10,000 lb. to over 300,000 lb., while speeds range from 400 kn. to over 1,300 kn. The airframe cost refers to the cost of the assembled structural and aerodynamic components of the air vehicle that support subsystems essential to a particular mission. In includes non only the basic structure (wing, fuselage, empennage, and nacelles), but also the air induction system, starters, exhausts, fuel control system, inlet control system, alighting gear (tires, tubes, wheels, brakes, hydraulics, etc.), secondary power, furnishings (cargo, passenger, troop, etc.), engines controls, instruments (flight navigation, engine, etc.), environmental control, racks, mounts, intersystem cables and distribution boxes, etc., inherent to and inseparable from the assembled structure, dynamic systems, and other equipment homogeneous to the airframe. Airframe costs also encompass the integration and installation of the propulsion, avionics, and armament subsystems into the airframe but not those efforts directly related to their development and manufacture. The cost estimate does not include training, support equipment, data, and spares. Source: "Advanced Airframe Structural Materials: A Primer and Cost Estimating Methodology," S.A. Reseter, J.C. Rogers, and R.W. Hess, RAND, R-4016-AF

AC Model Calculator
AC Required Data Entry
Aircraft Type: Non-Cargo


Aircraft Empty Weight (lb.)
Maximum Speed (kn.)
Number of flight test aircraft
Production Quantity
Calculated AC Results In US $M - 1999
  Hours (K) Cost (M99$)
Non-Recurring Costs
Development Support  
Flight Test  
Subtotal non-recurring
Recurring Costs
Quality Assurance
Subtotal recurring

Updated 6.02.11

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