The UK is staging one of the most high-profile events in the global aerospace calendar when delegates from around the world will debate the hot topics of the day at Aerospace Forum Birmingham 2019 being held at the International Convention Centre between 19-21 March 2019.
The forum will address the opportunities and challenges facing the sector and its international supply chain. The global aerospace industry is growing rapidly, at 5% per year, as the big players such as Boeing and Airbus ramp up their aircraft outputs, and the UK aerospace industry is well placed to take full advantage. Yet beginning just ten days before the UK is set to leave Europe, the event is likely to be dominated as much by concerns over global economic uncertainty and what aerospace businesses need to consider when mitigating against the risks of Brexit.
These are turbulent times and it is critical that the UK aerospace supply chain keeps its finger on the pulse. The three-day event has been curated to lay out the opportunities and tackle the key issues facing aircraft and engine makers, first-tier suppliers and the global supply chain and offers an ideal opportunity for delegates to take stock as well as debate and share insights.
Nine industry leaders will speak about what UK companies need to do to take advantage of global growth as well as the current uncertainty surrounding global trade - and advise supply chain businesses on how to confront the challenges ahead.
Day One features a major international conference coordinated by Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA). Prominent engine makers and first-tier companies will explain what technologies and capabilities they need from their suppliers, both now and in the future.
The conference will be followed by two days of intensive matchmaking sessions and pre-arranged B2B meetings aimed at bringing industry leaders together with their supply chains. Confirmed big companies participating in the forum include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Collins Aerospace, Moog, ITT, Meggitt and Comac. There will also be international contingents from the likes of France,
Italy, Poland, US and Spain – with the leaders of eight European aerospace business clusters also set to attend to discuss their concerns over Brexit.
The aerospace sector plays a critical role within the UK economy. In 2017, it generated £35bn in turnover and the industry employs around 120,000 people, which is good reason for optimism. It is also the 50th anniversary of the first Concorde flight and half a century on there is still strong demand for Best of British engineering. Air traffic is doubling every 15 years and it is anticipated an extra 33,000 aircraft will be required over the next two decades. UK companies are ideally placed to exploit expansion of the global market.
Despite this optimism, however, Brexit has changed the landscape and the disruptions of trading arrangements pose a real threat to British manufacturers. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, aerospace companies will face supply chain disruption and it is estimated this could lead to billions of pounds in extra costs. New customs checks alone could cost an extra £1.5bn per year and the restrictions on the movement of people and goods will potentially lead to delays of anything up to six days, which will have a significant impact on our global competitiveness.
Make UK chief executive, Stephen Phipson said: "While it is good news that output remains stable, it is no surprise that all the economic forecasts indicate that this will not last. Manufacturing needs certainty over Brexit to boost orders and exports and to protect the jobs of nearly three million people working in the manufacturing sector across the UK. Investment cannot recover while uncertainty continues to rule our political landscape. UK manufacturing needs a deal and time is running out."
The Aerospace Forum Birmingham will help UK businesses keep up to speed with the Brexit debate and its likely implications. Speakers will explore what the UK supply chain can do to become more resilient and mitigate against the risks of exiting the European Union. This will include urging aerospace companies to quickly get to grips with understanding new customs procedures and requirements, updating their own processes to comply with new UK and EU regulations, and maintaining close links with both customers and suppliers in the aerospace supply chain so that any potential problems can be identified and resolved as quickly as possible.
Andrew Mair, MAA chief executive said: “One thing we’re all going to have to work even harder at after Brexit is our international business with continental Europe. We’ve taken for granted how easy trade within Europe has been as a result of our EU membership. Now we’re going to have to make greater efforts to persuade our continental counterparts to do new business with us. We’ll have to overcome some psychological as well as more practical barriers and uncertainties -- for a period, at least.”