Airliners Lift U.S. Aerospace Industry to $228 Billion in Sales

 - December 31, 2014, 7:00 AM
Boeing plans to increase the capacity and production rate at its 737 plant in Renton, Wash., shown here in an artist's rendering, from 42 airplanes per month to 47 in 2017. (Image: Boeing)

U.S. aerospace industry sales will grow by about 4 percent to $228.4 billion as 2014 concludes, with large airliner sales setting the pace. Overall sales of civil aircraft, the largest segment of an industry that counts military aircraft, missiles, space and related products and services in its results, will increase from $69.7 billion in 2013 to an estimated $75.3 billion, according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

The industry will ship 725 transport-category aircraft worth $57.5 billion in 2014 compared to 648 worth $53 billion the previous year, the AIA said. Civil aircraft orders increased for a sixth consecutive year, with foreign orders representing 72 percent of the aircraft backlog.

In its year-end review and forecast, released in mid-December, the AIA called out Boeing’s 1,274 net orders and $40 billion in orders and commitments for 201 aircraft at the Farnborough Airshow in July as driving sales growth.

Transport aircraft backlog in December was estimated at 5,552 aircraft worth $429 billion, improving from 5,080 aircraft worth $373 billion the previous year. Boeing’s backlog was 5,492 aircraft, of which 4,004, or 73 percent, were ordered by foreign airlines.

Overall aerospace industry exports increased by $8.1 billion to $119 billion, helping the industry maintain a positive balance of trade of exports versus imports of $61.2 billion—roughly the same as in 2013. Exports of civil aircraft, aeroengines and parts represented 88 percent of aerospace exports. The Obama administration’s ongoing export control reform initiative helped with the trade differential, the AIA said. In 2014, the initiative shifted dual-use items used in military aircraft and engines from the U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Control List. Since the reform started, there has been a 64 percent reduction in the number of licenses submitted to the State Department for aircraft and engine parts that were previously controlled under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the association said.

The AIA also credited Congress for extending through June the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which provides foreign buyers with financing to purchase U.S.-manufactured aircraft. In remarks she made during the association’s year-end luncheon, president and CEO Marion Blakey vowed to lobby hard for a long-term reauthorization of the bank. “This past year, even though we were told the Ex-Im deck was stacked against us on Capitol Hill we took the attitude of ‘Game On,’” Blakey said. “You can count on AIA carrying forward the fight for a full reauthorization until a decisive victory is obtained.”