DeeDee Doke/LONDON

A drop of more than 40% in military exports last year dimmed an otherwise bright performance by Europe's aerospace industry. Figures from the European Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA)show that turnover rose by 3% (adjusted for inflation) to €66 billion ($63 billion), contributing to an overall growth of 44% from 1995 to 1999.

Europe's profit margin of 7% in 1999 was a rise of 5% from 1998, and employment rose by 3% to 436,700. The figures reflect the aerospace industry's position as "a dynamic engine for economic development in Europe", claims AECMA president, Rolls-Royce chief executive John Rose.

Civil domestic turnover rose by 11.4%, civil exports by 12.8% and military domestic sales by 10.4%. Of consolidated 1999 turnover, exports accounted for 51% thanks to strong civil sales. Overall civil products contributed 69% of sales. Exports, at €33.2 billion, dwarfed total imports of €11.2 billion. The figures would have been even better had there not been a €4 billion slump in military exports.

The downturn in military exports stemmed largely from the cancellation of major procurement programmes, mostly in Asia, says AECMA secretary-general Peter Fichtmüller. He says direct sales to the US Department of Defense are still "marginal, almost non-existent", with European companies exporting to the market primarily as suppliers.

Source: Flight International