UK aerospace flying high

Posted on 13 Jul 2010 by The Manufacturer

The UK aerospace industry is robust in the face of recession, a trade report shows, with revenues up, exports strong, productivity up and employment steady.

The report provides a vote of confidence in the UK industry a week before its annual celebratory trade event, the Farnborough Air Show, kicks off next week.

Covering both civil and defence, the 2010 aerospace industry survey by A|D|S, the UK’s aerospace, defence and security trade organisation, has found that last year:

• Revenue up 5.4% to £22.2bn;
• Exports accounted for 70% of overall turnover;
• Aerospace defence exports grew by 15 per cent to £6.68bn.
• Workforce remained roughly steady at 100,000 strong;
• Orders were down 10.4%, to £32.2 billion;
• Research and development spending was down 7.4 per cent to £1.74 billion;
• Sales to the US were down 20%;
• Productivity per employee was up by 6.2%.

Ian Godden, chairman of A|D|S, said the results were an “extraordinary performance” which “demonstrate the resilience” of the UK aerospace industry. He pointed out that the UK aerospace sector is number one in Europe and second only to the US globally.

“Our industry consists of over 2,600 high-value manufacturers and service providers, large and small with a nationwide footprint,” he said. “It is still very competitive worldwide, illustrated by the fact that two thirds of our revenues come from exports and our productivity continues to improve at a consistent long-term annual rate of six per cent.

“We are boosting the UK economy at a time of great need and there is further potential for growth in our sector, assuming we receive bold and high level support from the UK Government. This support will be crucial to compete with other powerful nations who are ambitious to take a growing share in this attractive growth market.”

He urged firms to pick up investment again now that recovery seems to be in full flow.

The report also found that the number of young people studying industry-related subjects rose by six per cent last year – a welcome development given the average age of current UK aerospace employees is 54.

Click here to read The Manufacturer’s preview of the Farnborough Air Show.