When is a bailout not a bailout? When it's your industry sector that's benefiting.

In calling for "attention and support" from public authorities, the Aerospace and Defence Association of Europe has been at pains to distance itself from the B word. The ASD doesn't want a bailout; it just wants national governments and the European Union to "keep investing" in a "successful sector". It acknowledges this argument is nuanced. The logic is also nuanced.

In highlighting its successes, the industry leaves itself open to challenge. With so many sectors drowning in red ink, why should aerospace and defence be prioritised? The idea that success should not be taken for granted is unlikely to compel custodians of taxpayer money - hardly an unlimited resource, however wantonly it may appear to be deployed to stem the banking crisis. And aerospace and defence already benefits from government funds. Defence spending may be shrinking in Europe, but the US Department of Defense's budget exceeds $500 billion. Support for civil aircraft programmes is sufficient to stoke a protracted World Trade Organisation dispute. And the EU finances many programmes aimed at "greening" aviation. ASD president Allan Cook is worried the association's optimism about its prospects could prove "unproductive". It probably will. After all, patients seeking preventative medicine don't get to queue-jump in the emergency roon.

Source: Flight International