The years after the world war famously known as the postwar era witnessed immense growth in the entire aviation industry. Leading this growth was the United States which positioned itself as the largest manufacturing industry in the world. The manufacture of airplanes, mainly for the military, grew so rapidly that about 300000 aircrafts were produced in the five years after 1940. The growth was in part due to the need for new and improved aircrafts for both military and commercial industries (Rhoades, 2008). The new development was geared towards evolution of the piston engine models to the more modern high performance jet aircraft.
The opportunities for aircraft manufacturing at the postwar period were immense owing the demand that was present for aircrafts. Although the world was at peace, the peace was hypocritical and countries were still warming up for possible war outbreak. During the war, majority of the aircrafts were for the military and had no capacity to carry many passengers. There was an opportunity to convert the military aircrafts into light airplanes for commercial use. The DC and the Lockheed that were previously used by the military were now availed to commercial airlines. After the war, many people had the desire to travel around the world and were wooed by the idea of using airplanes. There was also an opportunity for production of fast-flying aircrafts that could transport many people from one continent to the other. Airplanes were then made to be super fast. In 1947, for instance, a speed of 760 mph was achieved by the incredible Bell X-1.
The growth in manufacturing of aircrafts was not without challenges that threatened to cripple the industry, especially since it was after war and the economy was on a decline. One of the main challenges at the time was the lack of industrial plants and centers for making the aircrafts (Havard University, 1947). The demand for aircrafts surpassed the existing manufacturing plants. However, the US government worked to solve this challenge by furnishing majority of the existing facilities and then selling the same cheaply to private companies. The government’s wise policies worked to help in the realignment and reconversion of the already existing facilities. Another major challenge was the requisite labor that was hard to come by that time. Moreover, most of the people had no skills in manufacturing aircrafts and had to be poached from the military. However, the challenge was dealt with by the fact that majority of the management was made up of young people who could retain the skills and pass them to others over a long period of time.
There was also a challenge in the health of the available skilled workers perhaps due to being overworked. The project engineers at Lockheed, for example, succumbed to illnesses at a rate of 30 percent during the development of the XP-80 aircraft. More challenges were experienced in the management tasks although they had been anticipated in reality. The decreasing production due to shortage of workers necessitated readjustments in the production processes. The challenge was further aggravated by the fact that prior experience in these adjustments was not available.
The aircraft manufacturing industry was not prepared for the production work that confronted the world in the post war era. The need to shift from job shops to complex production lines meant the capital required for the same was high. Moreover, there was no prior experience in managing the challenges that faced aircraft manufacturing. Nevertheless, the companies and especially those in the US adjusted perfectly well to meet the market needs of the time.
Harvard University., & Lilley, T. (1947). Problems of accelerating aircraft production during World War II: A report. Boston.
Rhoades, D. L. (2008). Evolution of international aviation: Phoenix rising. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.