Leadership in aerospace technology depends critically on levels of government support, both direct and indirect, according to a sector-by-sector analysis of the origins of state funding for the aerospace industry.

Who pays, who wins – trends in government funding of aerospace by UK-based consultancy Counterpoint Market Intelligence studies the policies, programmes, mechanisms and beneficiaries in the civil and military sectors of the 20 major aerospace nations and finds that “no one country can afford to abandon state support”.

Counterpoint director George Burton does not predict the outcome of the ongoing World Trade Organisation dispute between Airbus and Boeing, but the report outlines several possible outcomes. “It is notable that anyone you speak to in this industry believes their competitors get more help than they do,” he says.

The report concludes that there is a correlation between the pecking order of national aerospace industries and the level of government support they receive. “Moreover, it is not possible to compete unilaterally without it,” it says.

Some governments have been extremely successful in creating aerospace industries from small beginnings. The report cites Spain’s hard-won capabilities in composite aerostructures, “and on a larger scale Embraer as a major world player in regional aircraft”.

Canada also comes in for comment as “one of the success stories for state funding of aerospace”, having claimed fourth place in the global line-up (although Counterpoint puts them as fifth) with a “particularly generous research and development regime in terms of the tax credit and the breadth of eligible costs”.

The report notes that largely as a result of state funding the USA leads in defence fixed-wing and unmanned aircraft, commercial airliner fuselages, airborne radar, electronic warfare, forgings and castings.

For its part, Europe has acquired leadership in civil helicopters and is level pegged on commercial airliner wings, civil and military aeroengines, composites, landing gear and military integrated cockpits.

“The USA remains a very attractive place to invest both for locally and foreign-owned firms due to the level of government support available and a policy of relatively open access,” according to the report.

Emerging aerospace nations include Japan, Russia, China and India, with Japan singled out as having achieved “Tier 1” status thanks to its relationship with Boeing, and a $1.6 billion investment in the Seattle manufacturer’s new 787.

“We believe the Japanese are wedded to Boeing and that they will build the wing for the 737 replacement,” says the report. India “will make its mark, but probably not in the near term”, while China “is leveraging its rapidly growing market for commercial aircraft to develop its industry and is trying to enter the regional jet market with its own product, the ARJ21”.


Source: Flight International