Paul Everitt is chief executive of ADS, the UK trade association for the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors.

In the UK there are few sectors as capable as aerospace of driving high-value, high-impact, productive activity across the country.

But the future of this vital manufacturing sector faces significant challenges. Securing the ability of UK aerospace to generate future long-term growth will depend on successfully competing for the investment in advanced green aircraft technology that will be developed in the coming years.

Paul Everitt

Source: ADS

Aerospace is on the cusp of a new technological era, says Everitt

International competition is fierce; for every business looking to invest, there will be multiple governments laying out the red carpet.

Plus, without state support, R&D projects will either not happen or occur at a much slower pace, harming the UK’s competitive position.

With the race now on to replace old technologies and achieve net-zero aviation, government backing is key.

As businesses invest millions to research and develop the future solutions we need, they are also casting their eye to find the best possible home to bring these technologies to market. A long-term commitment is essential.

Aerospace manufacturing often leads directly from R&D. With that in mind, the UK must offer a strong incentive for companies to conduct their research activities here.

Fostering a sectoral environment that is internationally competitive, agile in decision-making, attractive fiscally and with clear long-term commitment is critical to that. Remember, our international competitors are doing exactly the same.

The UK is now taking some important steps towards making our aerospace sector a major player in the international challenge of delivering net-zero aviation, notably the launch in 2020 of the Jet Zero Council and the FlyZero initiative from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

Both major international manufacturers and our network of hundreds of smaller, but no less innovative and dynamic supply chain companies have an essential role to play. Beyond the powerful match-funding agreement between the UK government and industry, the economic case for state investment is extremely compelling: every £1 of government funding generates at least £12 of private investment.


The regional spread of the supply chain means co-investment by public and private sectors in aerospace immediately supports the government’s levelling up agenda.

As a result of maturing technologies and the need to tackle climate change, the aerospace industry is on the cusp of a third generational technology evolution, which supports broader sustainability goals.

However, while the ATI has so far been hugely successful due to its unique nature and the public-private partnership, the joint funding commitment underpinning that success is likely to be insufficient over the next 12-18 months.

Although the investment to date has been substantial, it has not been enough to dictate an ambitious push into these third-generation technologies.

Without increased funding we are in danger of losing out to other rival nations and ceding our existing competitive edge. If that is allowed to happen we will have to accept that the UK’s supply chain will reduce in size.

With a joint commitment to 2036 or beyond and extra funding, the ATI can help retain and grow aerospace in the UK.

The country is showing great ambition in driving the international climate agenda, culminating in its hosting the COP26 climate change conference later this year. The aerospace industry has the potential for a golden future in the UK, helping to deliver on the green vision that has been outlined.

Messages sent now around joint funding commitments are already affecting company decisions; it is therefore right that we seek to firm up on the UK’s position over the next six months.

The economic case has been proved beyond doubt and now we need the financial backing to maintain the momentum that the ATI has generated.

The UK aerospace sector is looking to the government to offer the international industry a strong signal that we aim to be a global leader in achieving net-zero aviation.

As one of the top four countries in the world for aerospace manufacturing, the challenge and the opportunity facing us today is to compete as fiercely as our rivals will to be the home of new technology development. That will secure thousands of the high-value jobs for our manufacturing centres across the UK.

Paul Everitt is chief executive of ADS, the UK trade association for the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors.