UK aerospace orderbooks are at their healthiest levels since 1998, according to a survey of 2004 activity by the Society of British Aerospace Companies, but the industry must face up to the challenge of maintaining its role in the global marketplace, the organisation warns. “Companies have greater opportunities and freedom for choosing their investment locations and it is for the government to ensure that the UK environment is as supportive as possible,” it says.

SBAC director general Sally Howes describes a 5.6% decrease in real terms to £2.02 billion ($3.57 billion) of aerospace research and development investment as “disappointing”. The decline was partly due to the Airbus A380’s entry into production.

Increased exports have seen overall UK aerospace sales edge up by 1.6% year-on-year to £17.7 billion, while new orders have grown by 28% to £22.6 billion driven by increased defence orders, in part through the Eurofighter Tranche 2 production deal last December.

Defence sales rose by 3% to £8.94 billion in 2004, with the space sector up 11% at £427 million. Civil sales were flat at £8.35 billion.

Helen Massy-Beresford / London

Source: Flight International