Farnborough Air Show

AIA: U.S. Aerospace Industry Cannot Be Complacent

 - July 17, 2018, 3:37 PM

The Washington, D.C.-based Aerospace Industries Association (AIA; Chalet C5, Outdoor Exhibit R3) is preparing to celebrate its centenary next year as it comes to Farnborough 2018 focused on “three things—investment, convening, and competitiveness,” CEO Eric Fanning told AIN. Meanwhile, the association is highlighting the dominance of—while also warning of complacency in— the U.S. aerospace industry, which generated $865 billion last year and now employs 2.4 million people, with $143 billion worth of exports.

“Our focus is on advocating that agencies give sufficient resource to do what they have to do [for investment]. But convening is the powerful thing about AIA, bringing the industry and government together," he said. "For example, in bringing in drones while maintaining safety."

A fourth area, said Fanning, is the future workforce. “All four of these areas come together at Farnborough in a fixed way this year,” he noted, adding that AIA is also involved with the Rocketry Challenge for sixth through 12th graders, with a competition taking place on Friday at the show. Teams from Japan, the UK, France, and the U.S. are competing.

For the UK audience, Fanning said AIA is the equivalent of ADS, which runs the Farnborough Airshow through its subsidiary FIL. “We work with [ADS] closely also through colleagues in Montreal,” which Fanning said is an increasingly important center for aviation and aerospace.

According to Fanning, AIA has various roundtables “involving NASA, the FAA, DoD, and the White House” to discuss issues. “It’s probably the most exhaustive series of roundtables we’ve ever done,” he noted, adding that AIA “do convening also at other airshows such as Paris, Singapore, and Dubai.”

The key issue AIA is involved with at present is “the Trump Administration efforts on transparency of foreign military sales and cooperation,” said Fanning. “We want to ensure we don’t alienate our allies and partners.”

AIA employs around 50 people and is “focused mainly on what happens in the executive branch of government,” said Fanning. It has 340 member companies, many of which have international businesses. “All the way from big primes through the supply chain, it’s important we represent the whole industry—it’s very important when meeting with government people,” said Fanning.

While he admits there are other similar associations, he said AIA is “the dominant aerospace and defense association, although some of our members belong to other associations, too. We help the industry speak with one voice.” AIA has more than 60 councils, committees, and working groups, although Fanning said he is “trying to rationalize that.”

In conclusion, Fanning said, “We’re proud of how dominant American companies are globally but always have to focus on staying competitive…maintaining agility…we have a lot of confidence and quality,” which he described as “the single biggest concern of the CEOs in our industry”–staying ahead.