Shift already evident in this year's survey due to civil aviation downturn and increased US military spending

Growth in US defence spending and the prolonged civil aviation downturn threatens to re-order the rankings of the world's largest aerospace companies, with BAE Systems and Bombardier most at risk of losing ground.

Flight International's latest Top 100 survey, prepared in association with Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and based on 2002 financial results, suggests the shift has begun.

Boeing held on to its number one position in the rankings, but a 7% reduction in revenues due to lower commercial aircraft deliveries reduced its lead over second place EADS. The European giant saw its revenues, 65% of which come from Airbus, slip 3%, although it stayed ahead of Lockheed Martin despite the US company's 11% surge in revenues on strong defence sales.

Boeing is forecasting lower revenues of $49 billion this year and has reduced its 2004 projection to $52 billion, but will stay in pole position. EADS is projecting flat revenues this year, and could lose second place to Lockheed Martin, which has increased revenue forecasts to $30.5-31.5 billion for this year and $31.5-33 billion for 2004.

BAE Systems held on to fourth place in this year's Top 100, but with revenues forecast to be flat this year is certain to be pushed into fifth position in next year's rankings by Northrop Grumman, which is projecting revenues of $25-26 billion this year and $28-29 billion in 2004. The US company has jumped from ninth to fifth place in two years.

Raytheon, United Technologies and General Electric are likely to hold on to their positions, but ninth-placed Honeywell is under threat from Thales, which entered the Top 10 for the first time this year, boosted by a 17% increase in defence sales. The French company expects to grow again this year and could move ahead of civil-dominated Honeywell in 2004.

Bombardier, pushed out of the Top 10 this year by Thales after seeing a 6% drop in aerospace revenues on lower business jet deliveries, could be pushed into 12th place next year by fast-growing General Dynamics (GD).

GD moved up from 15th to12th place as revenues rose 15%. Defence growth and the $1.5 billion acquisition of Veridian should vault GD ahead of Bombardier and possibly into the Top 10 next year.

Source: Flight International