Aerospace needs a long term view

Martin WrightAs I write, the North West Aerospace Alliance has held the official opening of its second office.

We have recently secured more than £7 million in funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency and European Regional Development Fund to build on our successful Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence programme (ASCE), with ASCE 2.

ASCE 2 aims to take forward our objective of securing a competitive base of world-class SMEs in the North West aerospace cluster.

Thanks to the funding we have doubled in size, and the new Bamber Bridge facility will house the ASCE 2 team. It cannot be emphasised enough what an important job this team will be doing.

This is the situation we find ourselves in – a sector with huge potential beginning to emerge from the effects of recession.

The aerospace industry in the North West is part of a significant advanced engineering capability in the region, adding significantly to the regional economy.

The high added value created by the sector is up to five times higher than the regional average and this leverages its importance to the economy.

In aerospace and defence the UK is second only to the USA. The UK boasts 17 per cent of the global civil aerospace market. So we can make things in Britain.

The potential workload in civil aerospace and defence is increasing and whilst emerging economies are keen to establish aerospace as a key strategic industry, the UK has the capacity to use its position to become more knowledge focused to increase further the value added.

An election is fast approaching, but industry needs are the same whatever party ends up in Government. Aerospace is a long term industry.

It needs a long term view from Government. It cannot adapt to short term policies.

We need to plan for a sustainable aviation platform given the reliance on air travel in the world economy and this will entail long term investment in research and development.

We need to recognise the importance of defence in the UK economy, a significant contributor to UK exports, and a source of high value employment.

We need the recognition that it is a vital, long term industry providing real wealth, real knowledge to a sustainable economy as well as providing a future for our emerging workforce.

Quite a challenge.

Martin Wright, chief executive, Northwest Aerospace Alliance.