The UK aerospace industry is well represented at Paris once more, and it continues to thrive as the second largest in the world after the U.S., directly employing some 124,000 people and supporting a total of more than 276,000 jobs, according to the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC).
The SBAC published its UK Aerospace Industry Survey 2007 on June 11, which also shows that the sector’s revenue was almost $40 billion, with 63 percent of all products being exported.
Dr. Sally Howes, SBAC director general, said, “Paris is the premier aerospace event of this year and UK industry is well represented. UK companies are being well supported by regional trade associations and national agencies.” The emergence of the regional trade associations has been a significant feature in the UK industry over the past 10 years; the list now includes Aerospace Wales, the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, West of England Aerospace Forum, Northern Defence Industries, the Northwest Aerospace Alliance and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance.
Howes also pointed out that the UK aerospace industry invests more than $5 billion in research and development each year–second only in the UK to the pharmaceutical sector. She added that recent research by the Society demonstrated that the broader economic returns of R&D investment in the aerospace industry amount to some 70 percent, that is, every $100 million invested raises gross domestic product (GDP) by $70 million a year. The industry’s investment in early stage R&D is seen as particularly important, the sum invested increasing by 20 percent to $500,000 between 2006 and 2007.
The annual survey also notes that the revenue of maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft in the UK increased by 8 percent to around $12 billion, and that aerospace made the equivalent of a $3 billion net contribution to the UK balance of trade.
The Society said, however, that the biggest challenge facing the global aerospace industry is responding to the threat of climate change, and as Howes said in the report, “UK industry has been instrumental in developing the world’s first sustainable aviation strategy, committing aerospace manufacturers to substantial improvements in fuel efficiency, reduced noise and lower NOx emissions.” But she added that “we now need a step change in the rate of technological improvement if we are to meet the targets.”
Chris Geoghegan, SBAC president, said: “The aerospace industry continues to benefit from the global growth in demand for air transport. It has had a phenomenal year with substantial increases in revenue, new orders and productivity. The sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience, but we are not complacent and recognize that we must respond to global competition.”