Flight International, September 2021

Our annual review of the Top 100 aerospace companies details the Covid-19 pandemic’s huge impact on the industry’s biggest players. Fortunes swung markedly as the crisis hit backlogs and demand for new commercial aircraft, while defence activity remained solid. This saw Lockheed Martin fight its way to the top of our ranking, as previous leader Airbus slipped to 4th place.

We also cover Afghanistan’s return to Taliban rule, with Kabul having fallen less than a month before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Our special report looks at the legacy of the terrorist attacks which prompted the USA and its allies to intervene in the country.

Elsewhere this issue, we check the health of the aircraft interiors sector, and get set for the UK’s tri-service DSEI defence show, where Flight International will be reporting as the event’s official Aerospace Zone media partner.

Use the links below to access our latest issue’s content in web-optimised format, or scroll down further to view our “page-turner” digital replica of the magazine, download a pdf version, and access archived issues.

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Top 100

F-35A

Top 100 aerospace companies ranked by revenue

This year’s Top 100 reflects an aviation industry hit by nine months or more of crisis – but also one where fortunes differ hugely depending on whether a business’s focus is defence or commercial.

GTF on E190-E2

Raytheon Technologies tops sales growth list

Raytheon Technologies’ year-on-year sales growth of over 121% is a result of the merger with the Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney units of United Technologies.

Garmin Autoland

Operating margins table highlights industry squeeze

We may have been through the worst crisis in aviation history, but this year’s table of best performers in operating margin has a familiar ring to it. The companies that are the best at squeezing profits from their revenues pretty much stay consistent year after year.

737 Max

Commercial downturn marks Boeing’s nadir

It was another awful year for Boeing’s commercial sales fortunes, with an almost 50% drop in revenues to just $16.2 billion. To put it in context, the company made just twice as much revenue from its range of single- and twin-aisle airliners as Gulfstream did in 2020 with a family of specialist business jets.

CH-53 production

How defence companies rose to the top during pandemic

Further evidence of how far behind the defence aviation market commercial aviation fell during the worst of the Covid-19 crisis comes from the sales totals of the biggest 10 players in each segment.

Legacy of 9/11

security search c FrameStock Footages Shutterstock

Legacy of 9/11: Airport security crackdown

The way passengers are screened before boarding aircraft changed forever following the terrorist attacks of 2001

Credit AirTeam Images

Legacy of 9/11: A decade of disruption for airlines

The 10 years following the terror attacks were challenging for the industry, with loss-making, forced consolidation and bankruptcy protection the order of the day. However, the period did usher in a new breed of low-cost airlines and new ways of doing business

Boeing Sonic Cruiser

Legacy of 9/11: Drive for economy reshapes aviation

The crisis after 2001 spelled the beginning of the end for super-large widebodies, and ushered in hyper-efficient twins

Predator UAV

Legacy of 9/11: UAVs come of age

The arrival of the unmanned air vehicle as a potent battleground tool is arguably the most notable legacy of the 2001 terror attacks for aerial warfare.

Interviews

Ampaire

Ampaire charges up UK ambitions after successful Scottish test campaign

California-based electric aircraft developer outlines future evaluations under government-backed Future Flight Challenge programmes. 

NH90France-c-VanderWolfImages_Shutterstock

How NH90 operators are planning for the 2040s and beyond with future upgrades

Although the immediate upgrade path for the NH Industries (NHI) NH90 is clear thanks to a contract decision last year, officials from a majority of the rotorcraft’s customers met in late July to discuss a possible roadmap to keep the helicopter relevant into decade after next and beyond.

Interiors

QR3

Promoting the healthy cabin in the post-Covid era

The pandemic has prompted carriers to think differently about on-board hygiene and service, and, as aviation picks up again, the perception of air travellers about the safety of their journey remains paramount.

Generic cabin shot c Matej Kastelic Shutterstock

Cabin suppliers look to life after Covid

The past 18 months has been miserable for the interiors industry. But, with traffic and airline orders picking up, can the sector look to 2022 with confidence?

Analysis

A350 1000 -c-Airbus

Airbus has stiff sales target for A350 freighter as it aims for MD-11F replacement: analyst

Airbus will need to sell at least 150 examples of its A350 freighter for the programme to be considered a success, according to a leading analyst.

E195-E2 First Flight

Embraer rolls out carbon-reduction targets, supports ‘net-zero emissions’ by 2050

Embraer has pledged to develop “solutions” to achieve “net-zero aviation emissions” by 2050, saying it will work expand the use of biofuel and continue developing aircraft powered partly and fully by electricity.

DSEI

Tempest low level

How UK military, industry will showcase advances at DSEI

Taking place in London’s Docklands from 14-17 September, the biennial DSEI event marks the first opportunity for the defence industry of the UK and 30 other nations to gather since the emergence and global spread of Covid-19.

Virgin Orbit 747 Cosmic Girl

Why the UK Space Command has skyrocketing ambitions

Among the organisational changes made by the UK Ministry of Defence since the last DSEI show in September 2019, the establishment of a dedicated Space Command is one of the most significant recent developments.

Women in aviation

MiMi Aung

MiMi Aung’s out of this world Ingenuity

As project manager for NASA’s spectacular unmanned helicopter flights on Mars, MiMi Aung advanced awareness of autonomous capability – and inspired a new generation of scientists.