BUOYED by robust exports the UK’s aerospace sector saw annual revenue increase 5.4 per cent to £22.2bn last year leaving it competitive, despite orders falling by more than a tenth.
With the first Strategic Defence Review (SDR) in 12 years underway the industry can expect to continue to feel the pinch. Alex Dorrian, president of the UK’s Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS) trade organisation, said the civil aerospace industry had displayed strength in its defence exports in 2009 and pointed to the diversity of its 9,000 companies in developing new technology which enabled it to temper the effects of the recession.
The ADS survey found defence accounted for 52 per cent of the total revenue and exports were responsible for 70 per cent of overall turnover.
Contractions in the US market reduced transatlantic sales by 20 per cent, mainly in defence. But overall aerospace defence exports continued to grow, rising by 15 per cent to £6.68bn.
Europe’s largest aerospace group EADS told City A.M. the difficult economic times demand nations work together more efficiently to share the cost of development, missions and equipment. The owner of Airbus added: “What the private sector wants is stability as this allows us to invest and commit which is vital for the aerospace sector because of its very long product lifetime.”
Research and development investment in the sector was a casualty as it fell by seven per cent to £1.74bn.
Dorrian made an appeal to the government following the SDR to quickly provide a roadmap for the industry if confidence is to remain. He said: “In this uncertain environment, more than ever, industry desperately needs a clear, long-term industrial strategy, so that we can invest with confidence for the next twenty years and beyond.”