The top 20 sales growth table, collated as part of FlightGlobal’s 2021 listing of the largest 100 aerospace businesses by revenue, is very different to last year,

In the pandemic-hit 2020, 19 businesses recorded higher revenues – and 16 of those were single figure percentages. This time, all 20 are in double figures, with Dassault Aviation on top with an increase of almost 32%.

The French manufacturer produces both military and business jets, giving it a hedge against a downturn in either market, although the timing of various tranches of Rafale shipments – particularly to the domestic customer – do lead to oscillations in revenue. Last year, however, was a good one, with strong orders and deliveries across both markets. Dassault delivered 25 Rafales, for instance, compared with 13 in 2020.

Rafale for UAE

Source: Dassault

Dassault’s sales performance roared back in 2021

Second placed Martin-Baker saw its sales rise by more than a quarter. The privately-held UK firm is the leading manufacturer of military ejection seats and a prolific exporter. Recent contract wins include Korea Aerospace Industries’ KF-21 fighter, which is equipped with the company’s latest Mk18 seat, and a retrofit deal for Taiwan’s fleet of Northrop F-5E/Fs.

Top 20 by sales growth
Rank by growth %Rank by salesCompanySales growth
1 16 Dassault Aviation 31.8%
2 91 Martin-Baker 25.9%
3 57 ITP Aero1 24.5%
4 34 CAE2 22.4%
5 83 HENSOLDT 22.2%
6 97 TUSAS Engine Industries 22.1%
7 40 Elbit Systems 21.5%
8 19 Hanwha Aerospace 21.2%
9 49 Pilatus 19.4%
10 33 Eaton 19.1%
11 54 Kongsberg 18.5%
12 26 Spirit AeroSystems3 16.1%
13 62 Mercury Systems 16.0%
14 60 Ametek 15.8%
15 68 Garmin 14.4%
16 2 Raytheon Technologies 13.8%
17 63 AIDC 12.9%
18 12 AVIC 11.7%
19 25 Embraer 11.2%
20 29 Hindustan Aeronautics 10.2%

Its acquisition of former parent Rolls-Royce’s Huknall site was a factor in third-placed ITP’s 24.5% sales increase. Meanwhile, another acquisition during the financial year, that of L3Harris’s military training business, helped Canadian simulator manufacturer and pilot training outfit CAE to a 22.4% increase.


In fifth, German sensor systems specialist Hensoldt – which Leonardo took a 25% stake in this January – benefited from a series of contract wins that boosted its backlog in 2021 by almost a half. Some of that fed through to its sales figures for the year.

Twelfth-placed Spirit AeroSystems – which otherwise had a challenging year, remaining in the red partly due to its dependence on Boeing’s commercial output – also saw its sales increase as a result of an acquisition. It took over Bombardier’s Belfast-headquartered aerostructures operation, which makes wings for the Airbus A220 among other contracts.

Eight companies in total notched up an increase in sales of at least a fifth, indicating that for many Top 100 businesses, 2021 was a turnaround year.

However, the sales growth table can be misleading. While it does rank companies by their revenue performance, an impressive showing can be the result of a return to business as usual after a particularly poor previous year. Companies in this table can vary greatly from one edition to the next, while the top 20 operating margin listing tends to change less, reflecting consistently high-margin performers.