The British Aerospace Industry
CEO explores the industry's current climate and future prospects
The Farnborough Air Show in Hampshire is home to one of the main exhibitions of the aerospace and defence industry, which is held biannually in even-numbered years. It is the second most important air show and companies and contractors tend to announce important deals during the event. This year's edition was quite significant for the British aerospace industry. In fact, the UK's Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson announced an investment of £2 billion for the next generation of British fighters. The model, which will replace the current fleet of Typhoon fighters will be manufactured by the British defence giant BAE and named "Tempest".
The Defence Secretary declared that committing to this ambitious programme is necessary if the UK wants to maintain control of British airspace in case of future combat. As per his interview with the BBC: "We have been a world leader in the combat air sector for a century, with an enviable array of skills and technology, and this strategy makes clear that we are determined to make sure it stays that way."
British engineering giant Rolls-Royce will build the engines for the fighter and Italian company Leonardo Difesa and European Missile company MBDA will also participate in the project. In a climate of international tensions and uncertainties it is welcomed news for an industry that is so important for the British economy. However, it was not the only announcement at the Farnborough Air Show; Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that the Government will spend more than £300m in multiple aerospace industry projects.
The British aerospace industry is one of the oldest in the world, with a rich heritage of technological discoveries. It is also one of the richest industries in the UK, creating £57 billion of revenue in 2017.
Analysts predicted a major growth for the industry, which was supposed to expand at an annual growth rate of 4.7% every year until 2021. However, these figures are now in jeopardy. The uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations and the risk of trade wars between major economies, are influencing the forecast for the UK civil aerospace sector.
Nevertheless, the investment plans announced at the Farnborough Air Show is a first step in maintaining this industry at the forefront of civil and military aviation.