A UK industry taskforce has called for a massive increase in state funding for civil aerospace research. The Aerospace Innovation and Growth Team has released its final report and highlighted the comparative lack of government support for aerospace research and technology (R&T) efforts as risking "severe and rapid decline".

The team, convened last year by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, calls for state spending on civil aerospace R&T to rise from £20 million ($33 million) to at least £50 million, with matching funding from industry. Enabling team leader Andy Start, an Astrium director, says the industry "needs at least £150 million to be competitive in the civil arena".

Sir Richard Evans, BAE Systems chairman and head of the team, says industry and government now need to spend to ensure success in the 2020s."The industry today is healthy because people 20 or 30 years ago had the foresight to invest in research, technology and capabilities. We must try to ensure that there is the same legacy for the people who will be here in 20 to 30 years' time."

But he warns that better control of research spending is vital. "We need to direct R&T to areas where we can establish that an application exists early on," Evans says. "The main problem is that there is not sufficient funding available to deliver the outputs we require, and we are not spending what we have at the moment in the most efficient way."

Start adds that this may mean that the government will have to encourage industry to quit less promising areas of research.

Key research areas include aerodynamics, propulsion systems, advanced materials, electric drives, air traffic management and environmental protection, the report says.

The next twelve months will see members of the team putting some of the report's suggestions into practice in their own companies - "quick-win" moves to increase productivity and share best practice across the industry - while drawing up a detailed plan for government and industry to put the rest of the recommendations into practice. While it supports the report's findings, the government has yet to make a firm spending commitment.

Source: Flight International