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Industry trends in aerospace and defence

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago

The worldwide aerospace and defence industries are now slowly recovering from the pandemic, but there is still a long way to go. Consumers are still facing flight delays and cancellations. However, the industry appears to be now concentrating on innovations and looking to opportunities for growth.

Industry trends

  • Meeting the need for decarbonisation and net-zero emissions

This is very much a key element of green manufacturing, with the aim of reducing emissions during both the manufacturing process and subsequent operations. It’s about using latest technology to address sustainability through technological and operational improvements and reduce the effect industry has on climate change.

Key initiatives:

1. Choosing sustainable alternatives during manufacture

2. Green energy

3. Reconfiguring supply chain, shipping and distribution.

4. Smart technologies

5. Using advanced technologies

However, reducing those emissions produced by the ‘final’ product requires sustainable aviation fuels and electric propulsion if the carbon footprint is to be reduced further.

  • Smart manufacturing

Naturally, the aerospace and defence industries have to respond to leaps in innovation and complexity. Increasingly using digital means throughout the manufacturing lifecycle can considerably speed up the process, increase quality, reduce the time to market and essentially meet customer demand more effectively, while at the same time considerably cut costs. The use of ‘smart factory’ production, where all processes are seamlessly and efficiently connected can further facilitate this.

  • New, advanced air transport

This is the development and application of new-generation forms of air transport - vertical take-off and landing electric cargo drones, flying cars and air taxis, all seeking to dramatically change urban mobility for the better. Some organisations, including the space agency NASA, are actually now carrying out testing and piloting of new, state-of-the-art vehicles.

  • The space industry

The big positive economic prospects space exploration seems to offer is the opening of new markets and job opportunities through a growth in space-based products and services that facilitate new launch and satellite technology.

Key initiatives:

1. To increase private investments in space companies

2. Public-private partnerships (government and private sector collaboration)

3. Job creation in all disciplines related to innovation, manufacturing and business support services

4. Licensing deals by the government to the private sector

  • Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions facilitate innovation and expansion without having extra start-up costs. Through this, innovative start-ups can gain both the facilities and investment they need to ensure their success, as well as the help they need to enter new markets that they might not be able to enter on their own, such as electric propulsion, hypersonics and space tourism.

Trends in military technology

The defence industry can only benefit from new technology through autonomy, connectivity, sustainability, and of course lethality.

Key initiatives:

1. Advanced defence though, as examples, directed-energy weapons, hypersonic flights and space militarisation

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

3. Autonomous systems and robots to increase situational awareness, perform other functions, protect forces, reduce soldiers’ workload and facilitate search rescue operations

4. Blockchain technology to protect military data and counter cyber threats

5. Gaining a strategic advantage through “Big Data” collection and analysis

6. makes it possible to Reduction of defence production costs through additive manufacturing

7. Offensive cyber warfare and responsive cyber protection though the inclusion of AI and automation

8. The fast speed of 5G usage and its connectivity

9. The Internet of Things enabling seamless connectivity with the operational bases for drones, planes, ships and soldiers

10. Virtual and augmented reality to improve combat training and real-time decision making

  • Consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war

The defence sector has to actively meet the increasing demand for weapons. Following is a summary of the impact of the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.

  • Rising weapon demand

The provision of military aid to Ukraine by some of EU countries, the US and the rearmament intention expressed by a number of NATO countries in response to the Russian aggression

  • Defence spending. increase

Orders and budgets in both Europe and the US and Europe are expected to grow significantly with a rise up to 50% over the next five years. Several EU countries (including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Sweden) have declared their intention to increase their annual expenditure on defence.

  • Titanium shortages

One of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace titanium used in the production of commercial and military aircrafts has been Russia, with companies such as Airbus and Boeing relying heavily on it. With sanctions against Russia, this supply has had to be sourced elsewhere, with the prospect of shortages looming.

  • Commercial aviation challenges

Because of the war, some airspaces have been closed, with air travel restricted by other countries. With some flights having the be rerouted, this has increased the duration of flights, fuel costs and extra pollution.

  • Project and resource management

As the industry develops further, the complexity of projects is also increasing significantly. This brings with it and the requirement for an efficient increase in the management of projects and their resources. The number of people required and the increasing co-location across the world adds further towards pressure on the manufacturer and deliverer. Projects have to be better thought out, as does the people management to run those projects, so this will have a big direct impact on the immediate future.