UK industry body to embrace overseas companies as part of modernisation effort

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) says it wants to overhaul its "gentleman's club" image by becoming more representative of the country's wider aerospace and defence community and taking a commercial approach to providing services to members.

A restructuring of the society later this year is likely to see membership criteria opened to non-UK companies that have a "stakeholding" in the UK industry, such as Boeing, as well as non-aerospace defence companies. "We've been a bit old-fashioned in the way we used to admit members, deciding on their suitability behind closed doors," says SBAC president Colin Green. "We want to represent the interests of the global industry investing in and employing people in the UK."

A federation structure may also be introduced to give a role to regional trade groups such as the North West Aerospace Alliance and Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, which have sprung up during the past decade to capitalise on pump-priming funding from the government's local development agencies. These organisations currently meet the SBAC under the guise of the UK Aerospace Forum.

The SBAC also wants to follow the example of Europe-wide industry body AECMA by merging with organisations representing the defence and space communities (Flight International, 27 April-3 May). "We want to present a single voice at national level to the government for the aerospace and defence industry," says Green, who is also president of Rolls-Royce's defence business.

The restructuring is being spearheaded by director general Sally Howes, who took over from David Marshall last year. Some services carried out by the SBAC's 54-strong staff in London may be farmed out to regional bodies. "We don't want to duplicate services that can be provided to our members better at a local level," says Green.

Organisation of the Farnborough air show could also be transferred to an exhibition company (Flight International, 13-19 July).



Source: Flight International