UK aerospace industry flying high with global orders surging worth £234 billion to the British economy

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Photo credit: Airbus. Copyright: Airbus - Master Films - Pascal Pigeyre

The UK’s aerospace industry makes a significant and valuable contribution to economic prosperity and after a bumper year, there are now a record 14,794 aircraft on order according to new figures from ADS, the trade association for aerospace, defence, security and space organisations.

At current production rates, this global aircraft package is worth around £234 billion to the UK and represents more than 10 years of advanced manufacturing work.

This is great news for the UK’s world-class aerospace industry which enjoys an annual turnover of £27 billion and employs more than 108,000 people.

The UK’s aerospace sector is a hub for advanced manufacturing, generating well-paid jobs across the country developing world-leading aircraft technology, generating highly skilled employment and prosperity in every part of the country. The sector delivers strategic advantage for the UK through new technologies.

Credit: ADS

Currently aircraft orders and deliveries are significantly ahead of 2022’s figures. The latest data from ADS highlights strong orders and a strong demand for newer and more fuel-efficient aircraft.

So far this year 2,430 aircraft orders have been placed which is a 43% increase on the same period in 2022. Single-aisle aircraft account for just over 80% of orders placed this year, demonstrating the rapid demand for recovery in the domestic and short-haul travel industry post-pandemic. 

The ADS report shows deliveries have also increased, with 966 aircraft delivered marking a 12% increase on 2022, with 799 single-aisle and 122 wide-body aircraft out the door and in the skies.

The ADS report shows 28,364 engines are also on backlog order which marks a new industry record in October 2023.

In fact October 2023 marked the third record-breaking high for the industry, with the global aircraft order backlog now totalling 14,794 aircraft. This is estimated to be worth £234 billion to the UK’s aerospace sector.

ADS has identified areas that a clearly defined industrial strategy could deliver upon while addressing key blockers to growth and maximising return on public investment. A summary of ADS recommendations to the Chanceller includes calls to:  

  • Introduce a reformed R&D tax credit scheme over a longer timeframe, ensuring it addresses capital expenditure and maintains support for SMEs 
  • Encourage investment in the UK’s defence industrial base through long-term clarity on future defence spending  
  • Provide long-term uplifted funding for aerospace R&D through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) 
  • Involve industry in developing the future revenue certainty scheme for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), ensuring the fair allocation of financial risk and amendments to related obligations to cover engine testing 
  • Prioritise the deployment of functional space programmes and an augmented UK technical capability to deliver upon the 2021 National Space Strategy (NSS) 
  • Address the challenges with the access to finance for the UK defence industry, including for SMEs requiring basic banking services and Primes seeking investment 
  • Introduce a long-term capital offering for our sector through a new Aerospace and Defence Strategic Supply Chain Fund 
  • Bolster the availability of electricity grid connections and support our sectors decarbonise the manufacturing processes 
  • Provide added flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy, both on timescales and funds 
  • Strengthen resourcing for key operational agencies including the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) and UK Security Vetting (UKSV) 
  • Bring forward a scheme to support exporting SMEs with attending international trade events 

The full ADS press release can be found here.

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