Aerospace industry financial data from 2014 underscores the obvious: this industry is riding a decade-long growth wave. Our analysis, compiled by the aerospace experts at PwC, shows that, barring a wobble during the darkest days of the financial crisis, makers of aircraft and their suppliers mostly sloughed off the downturn and then surged during an otherwise weak recovery. Indeed, aerospace can be said to be enjoying an economic super-cycle.

All-time sales records have fallen two years running, and growth is pushing double digits. The big two, Boeing and Airbus, are delivering aircraft, and taking orders, at rates that would have gobsmacked industry bosses 15 years ago – validating, it would seem, long-range demand forecasts that are giving today’s aerospace leaders the confidence to invest.

Can it go on? The optimistic assumption has long been that rising wealth in emerging markets is translating into a demand for travel that will endure – and aerospace growth has been outpacing world GDP for years.

But Brazil and India are on the buffers. Russia is suffering and only a fool would assume that a Chinese crisis – and hence, quite possibly, a global crisis – is out of the question. The slump in oil prices takes the urgency out of replacing ageing, relatively thirsty, aircraft fleets. And turmoil in the Middle East might lead US and European governments to boost defence spending, but the net effect of conflict would surely be negative.

But as many an industry insider has noted, even if half the orderbook evaporated, the aerospace industry would still be in fine shape.

Top 100 2015

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