New growth for aerospace

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Companies supplying the aerospace sector can expect “excellent growth” for the next few years, according to Ian Godden, chairman of ADS, the trade organisation for the UK’s aerospace, defence, security and space industries.

The ADS chairman’s confident prediction is good news for advanced manufacturing companies and researchers across South Yorkshire.

A host of South Yorkshire steel and advanced manufacturing companies supply materials and components used in everything from aero engines to landing gear, as well as high precision cutting tools for aerospace applications.

Among them is Tata Steel Speciality, the South Yorkshire arm of Indian steel giant Tata, which is currently investing £6.5 million in two new vacuum arc remelting furnaces and specialist testing equipment to increase the capacity of its Stocksbridge plant to produce ultra-clean, hi-tech steels used in aerospace by almost a third.

The region is also a major centre of research, with operations like the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, developed by the University of Sheffield and Boeing, Castings Technology International and materials joining specialist TWI, all based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, and Tata Steel Research, Development and Technology, whose main UK research site is Swinden Technology Centre in Rotherham.

“Not many people in this country realise that throughout the last severe recession there was one advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in the UK that continued to grow: Aerospace.

“In 2009, the UK Aerospace sector grew by 5 per cent. The outlook for this year and the next five years is even rosier,” said Mr Godden.

ADS says that each year, for the next 16 years, air travel is forecast to grow by 10 per cent in India, eight per in China, five per cent in the rest of Asia and six per cent in Brazil. Even North America and Europe are expected to record three per cent and two per cent annual growth respectively.

What’s more, aircraft manufacturers have already announced they will increase their rate of production to meet demand.

Mr Godden called for sustained investment in research and development, adding that government support was crucial to ensuring Britain secured the strong future that was within its grasp, capable of being delivered and sustained amidst fierce international competition.