Over the past year the Aerospace Technology Institute has developed its market and economic modelling capabilities to project the aerospace sector’s future performance.

The first results of this work will be published in an upcoming issue of our INSIGHT series.

The analysis projects the impact of aerospace industrial strategy and technology investments through the ATI. The long-term government commitment to research and technology (R&T) funding through the ATI programme has been instrumental. Matched by industry to total £3.9bn between 2013 and 2026, this instils business confidence and crowds in higher private investment. It also leads to social returns that far exceed those achieved by the companies undertaking the research.

James McMicking, the ATI’s Chief Strategy Officer said:

“Without government and industry investment, UK aerospace businesses would quickly become uncompetitive, leaving globally mobile companies to favour investment in overseas capabilities where financial support is strong and consistent, compromising the route to market for UK suppliers.”

The analysis by the ATI shows how industrial strategy and research funding is helping to avert a major decline in the sector over the next twenty years, sustaining the UK’s market position by focusing on key opportunities in the next decade. James said:

“This is a long-term industry, requiring sustained technology investment. Major aircraft developments are infrequent, and this raises the stakes – UK suppliers must be ready to demonstrate mature technology and manufacturing capabilities or they risk losing deals that could secure a decade or more of business.”

Aircraft design is expected to shift dramatically to deliver continued efficiency improvements. This will represent a ‘generational change’ in passenger aircraft, reliant upon design and manufacturing capabilities yet to be fully developed, in addition to maturing nascent technologies. New knowledge and capability will be needed to bring a new breed of aircraft to market. The trajectory and role of UK aerospace will ultimately be shaped by whether it can take a lead in this respect – it will require industrial strategy to go further in terms of support and ambition, today.

“The industry needs to secure, evolve and enhance its High Value Design capabilities to be ready for the next generation of aircraft – these will be more complex and more demanding to engineer. This challenge is not unique to aerospace – all UK advanced engineering sectors need to get smarter and more productive to remain globally competitive. However, the problem is becoming exacerbated in aerospace by the extended periods between programmes – it is difficult to build knowledge, experience and evolve ways of working. Other countries recognise this and are acting.”