FARNBOROUGH: UK business secretary pledges to get behind aerospace sector

Farnborough
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UK secretary of state for business Vince Cable visited the show to hail the nation's "superb, world class" aerospace companies - and said it was a "no-brainer" for his government to support such a successful industry.

He also renewed a pledge to boost the country's capabilities in aerodynamics.

Cable was promoting the work of joint government-industry initiative the Aerospace Growth Partnership and its "Reach for the skies" report, which details efforts to a strategic vision for UK aerospace.

Setting out the wider context in which the sector operates, Cable stresses the need for the UK to grow exports, boost investment in the private sector and rebalance the economy towards advanced manufacturing - which is where aerospace comes in.

And Farnborough is a showcase for the "depth and width of British competence" in aerospace, says Cable, who vowed to "get behind" the industry.

Surging demand for civil aircraft means the UK need not rely on past glories, but nor can success be taken for granted, says Cable, stressing the need for proper organisation.

Towards this goal the government has in its latest budget statement allocated £60 million ($93 million) to a UK centre for aerodynamics. Of this, £20 million goes to jointly funded aerodynamics projects, with industry supplying £20 million; £20 million goes to a competition to find innovative new projects - run through the technology board, with matching funds from industry; and £12 million goes to creating and running the centre plus small-scale research. An independent advisor has been engaged to pick a location.

The government is also putting £15 million into capital equipment for manufacturing process projects, and £25 million into a Rolls-Royce-led project geared towards low-emission aero engines.

But there are problems for the UK aerospace industry as a whole to surmount. Cable acknowledges shortfalls in availability of financing and skilled labour, but insists projects are under way to alleviate these.