UK aerospace industry flies away from Brexit blues as aircraft production soars to new high

Rebecca Smith
The sector has enjoyed a windfall of £20bn for the year so far
The aerospace sector has enjoyed a windfall of £20bn for the year so far (Source: Getty)

The UK aerospace sector is batting away Brexit blues, after the industry globally soared to a bumper third quarter for commercial aircraft deliveries, according to trade body Aerospace Defence Security (ADS).

The total value to UK industry from the deliveries was estimated at up to £7bn, taking the total value so far for the year to £20bn.

ADS said the industry looks on track to top 2016's record year for deliveries with a final flourish expected to round off 2017.

Read more: MPs to scrutinise impact of Brexit on aviation in one-off evidence session

Production rates are 30 per cent higher than five years ago, and total aircraft on order books some 50 per cent higher, as long-term growth in the sector looks rosy.

For the third quarter, deliveries of new civil aircraft, covering all non-military aviation, topped the highest previous level recorded for the period. Some 260 single-aisle and 94 widebodies rolled off production lines, with a total of 354 deliveries for July through to September.

At present, this year's deliveries trail 2016's pace by nine aircraft, with the industry projection anticipating a final charge to finish the year on 1,528 deliveries to last year's 1,443.

Commercial aircraft deliveries

(Source: ADS)

ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said:

This has been a strong three months for the global aerospace industry and for UK manufacturers.

Following the annual record for deliveries set in 2016 there has been no slackening in the pace of production this year and we expect to see rates continuing to rise in the years ahead.

The robust performance comes after concerns have been aired among both aviation and aerospace bosses about the lack of certainty for a transition deal, and security on flying rights.

The Transport Select Committee meets today to hear from representatives of the industry, including Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye and IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh, to discuss the impact of Brexit on aviation.

ADS has previously warned that introducing new customs processes for trade with the European Union could add around £1.5bn in annual costs to the UK aerospace, defence, security and space sectors. It wants a Brexit deal that "limits any future customs checks and allows free flowing trade" across UK and EU borders.

Today, Everitt added that to continue the industry's strong trajectory, more work needed to be done.

He said: "To achieve forecasts of a 40 per cent rise in civil aircraft production by 2020, it is vital that industry and government work together on a UK industrial strategy that ensures this globally competitive, high-productivity sector is as strong as possible."

Read more: New customs processes for EU trade could cost UK aerospace £1.5bn a year

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