UK aerospace industry revenues top £24bn in 2011

According to ADS investment on research and development rose by 11% to £1.97bn as spending increased on programmes such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.

Due to cutbacks in national defence budgets, however, there was a 2.6% decline in overall orders for the industry, which nonetheless built up an order book worth over £28bn.

According to Robin Southwell, the ADS president, “A strong performance by the civil sector helped to offset a difficult year for the defence aerospace industry which has been buffeted by a variety of austerity measures, as many key governments have been forced to cut defence expenditure and prioritise deficit reduction plans.”

The news of continued growth came as the business secretary, Vince Cable, announced a £120m investment in the sector.

The investment, which includes funding for low carbon engines, is being seen as a key step in maintaining Britain”s position as the second biggest producer in the world aerospace industry. The sector is poised to undergo rapid expansion over the next twenty years as demand from emerging economies for new airliners is set to soar –  a business that could potentially be worth millions of pounds in exports for UK industry.

According to ADS the industry”s turnover is dominated by exports, with three-quarters of sales going abroad – 43% in civil aerospace exports and 31.6% in defence exports.

The cash injection announced by Cable comprises of £40m each in a programme steered by Rolls-Royce to develop greener aircraft engines. The announcement was rounded out by joint investments of £15m in 11 research and development projects, £6m in educating 500 aeronautical engineers to master”s degree level and an extra £20m investment from the aerospace industry in a centre of excellence for aerodynamics.

And, despite fears that the UK education system is struggling to produce enough students skilled in the so-called Stem subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths, the ADS survey, which is run annually,  said the number of UK and international students in higher education studying engineering and physics grew to 118,645 in 2011, although the rate of growth slowed from 6% in 2012 to 3.3% in 2011. The number of British and international students taking specialised aerospace engineering degrees has doubled since 2000, ADS added.

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