The West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) announced at its Annual Conference & Exhibition that it has achieved record membership numbers by surpassing the 300 mark. The event was held on the 28th of February and attracted more than 220 senior managers and leaders from companies throughout the aerospace sector, including Airbus, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace, Leonardo Helicopters, Rolls Royce, and Safran.
The theme of the conference this year was “The Challenge of Change”, where insights into activities in the aerospace sector were provided, whether commercial or defence, touching on current developments and future technologies.
The political, economic and social landscape in the UK and globally is changing beyond recognition, and the appetite for international trade and collaboration is increasing daily. At the conference, businesses directly and indirectly impacted by these changes, whether evolutionary or revolutionary, had the chance to make their voices count in the debate.
Simon Young, chief executive of WEAF, said: “The aerospace industry is continually soaring, including our membership. However with that, all businesses are consistently facing changes, including the uncertainty faced by Brexit. We are here to enable companies to make links and also network with the experts they need to solve each other’s problems and explore opportunities.”
Conference speakers included Paul Uppal, UK Small Business Commissioner, who discussed the challenges that SME’s face, particularly when they are adversely affected because of unfair late-payment practices by their customers; Malcolm Scott, Corporate Development Officer from the Aerospace Technology Institute shared the forward vision and strategy of the ATI to keep the UK as global #2 in aerospace technology; and Tony Gaunt, from Martin Baker, entertained delegates with an insight to the incredible history of MB ejection seats, and how seat technology has had to keep pace with today’s advanced military platforms such as F-35!
Speakers also included; Miles Carden, director of Spaceport Cornwall; Simon Jones, vice president of Leonardo’s UK Government Business; Rob Loveday from GE Aviation; Phil Tulitt, defence lead for Thales Cyber & Consulting; Russ Froneberger, global consulting, discussed the topic “Accessing the American Supply Chain”; and Chris Wilson, managing director of Safran Landing Systems.
Paul Uppal, Small Business Commissioner, at the office of the small business said: “Small and medium sized businesses in aerospace are fantastic. People’s eyes light up when they talk about aerospace. This industry grabs the imagination and the South West of England is perfectly placed to meet the challenges and opportunities of the growing global aerospace market, which will continue to generate high paid, highly skilled jobs. And WEAF is helping to make that happen.”
Ben Adeline, CEO of Insphere which was exhibiting, said: “What a fantastic event. The networking opportunities were outstanding. It was great to see the diversity of companies from across the region. We met some new people and expanded relationships with existing clients. This is our biggest event of the year and it is undoubtedly a must-attend for everyone in the UK and indeed global aerospace industry.”
Tony Gaunt, business development executive at Martin Baker, added: “The WEAF annual conference is always a fantastic event, and this one surpassed expectations. It is the place to network and build contacts.”
Announcements at this year’s conference also included the addition of a new Value Partner, Aro PR & Marketing, to join the three existing Value Partners of Castlemead Insurance, KDC Resource and Sandler Training in Exeter. Delegates also learned the result of the 2018 WEAF Board Elections.
WEAF is a membership regional aerospace alliance that represents the largest aerospace cluster in the UK. Their member and partner base represent a wide spectrum – from SMEs to global corporations.