The aviation market in the UK is strong. According to a report from January 2016, our aviation industry achieves an annual turnover of over £60 billion, with exports alone worth £26 billion. Of this sum, £52 billion is contributed to the UK economy.
Clearly, aviation is a lucrative and in-demand market in the UK, presenting many opportunities for aviation and aircraft manufacturers. To successfully capitalise on these opportunities, it is imperative that manufacturers within this sector stay ahead of developing industry trends in order to gain an advantage in what is an incredibly competitive sphere.
With this in mind, I will use this blog post to highlight some of the key developments and trends to impact aviation manufacturing both now and in the future.
The demand for air travel has remained high over the past few years, yet outlooks on this form of travel are changing. Passengers are demanding more from planes and not just in terms of their efficiency, but also in the overall passenger experience. Airlines are keen to eliminate dated, old-fashioned aircrafts from operation and replace them with modern planes with futuristic interior cabin designs.
Take the Boeing 787 for example. As well as offering increased efficiencies compared to older planes, the commercial plane features key changes to the cabin to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of passengers. Standout features include larger windows that can be dimmed by a button, eliminating traditional shutters, while redesigned seating gives every seat a window view.
Clearly, these changes alter the demand on aviation and airspace manufacturers. As such, manufacturers must be able to adapt their service offerings to effectively meet this demand. How this is done will vary on a case-by-case basis, but doing so could involve adapting processes or investing in software to manage a more complex supply chain, or investing in new technology to better support the manufacturing process.
Think of an airplane and you’ll likely think of a Boeing or Airbus model. Despite the size of the market, aviation is largely dominated by a handful of big aircraft manufacturers, supported by a network of specific parts manufacturers.
For aircraft manufacturers themselves, the very nature of the industry limits the risk of new competition entering the market. Unlike other sectors, becoming an aircraft manufacturer requires a large initial investment and very specific skills, knowledge and experience. This is good news for existing aircraft manufacturers, as it limits the risk of increased competition brought about by new entrants to the markets. It’s a slightly different story for aircraft part manufacturers, due to reduced barriers for entry.
However, while new companies shaking up the aviation industry is unlikely, manufacturers do have to contend with competition from each other. This underlines the need to stay at the forefront of the industry, ensuring you are able to deliver the latest products your customers expect. A commitment to technological advancement, as mentioned previously, is one way of doing so.
A year on and we’re still discussing the impact of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Influencers within the aviation industry have highlighted the potential issues Brexit could have on the sector’s growth.
For example, the UK is facing growing competition from companies like Germany and Spain, who are both looking to significantly develop their aviation sector. Depending on the location of the client, if the skills are the same, it may make financial sense to build the specific parts and aircrafts in Europe rather than the UK post-Brexit.
While the true extent of Brexit is unknown at present, many companies are concerned about how Britain’s divorce from Europe will impact the movement of employees, limiting production potential. Likewise, if Britain was to break from the European Aviation Safety Agency and establish a UK equivalent, it could lead to heightened costs for airlines and aircraft manufacturers who would essentially have to seek double certification.
We don’t know how Brexit will impact the UK’s aviation industry just yet but, in order to maintain Britain’s position as a global leader, it’s clear that we need to continue our investment in technology, in order to show the rest of the world how indispensable our market is.