It’s time to shine!

It’s time to shine!
It’s time to shine!

Mike Richardson hears the views of ADS Group's chief executive, Paul Everitt and the exciting developments the organisation plans to unveil during this year's Farnborough International Airshow.   With no London Olympics to steal its limelight this year, The Farnborough International Airshow is almost ready to enjoy its moment in the sun – assuming this showcase event doesn't experience the near-apocalyptic and crazy weather that beset the Paris Le Bourget event last year. The Farnborough International Airshow is to the aerospace industry as the Wimbledon tournament is to tennis. So I begin by asking ADS Group's chief executive, Paul Everitt what in his opinion is so truly unique about this event. “Farnborough is a very special event and is the genuinely global showcase for the aerospace sector. Everyone will be there which obviously provides a great opportunity for the UK aerospace industry. In its rich history over the last 60 years, every major aircraft development has flown, taken off and landed on Farnborough's airstrip. This kind of emotional and historical perspective makes it a very unique type of venue. Farnborough provides the backdrop to the UK's aerospace history and always creates a buzz of excitement when we see new products. “Looking forward to this year, we have some fantastic products on show. For example, it will be the first time outside the US that anyone will have seen the F-35 flying. Also for the first time, we will witness the A350, and while it did fly over Paris last year, it will be flying during the display and appear on static too. This provides a great opportunity for people to not only see these fantastic aircraft, but also for the supply chains that are supporting them. It represents a great opportunity for them to present their products and expertise to a global marketplace.” <Tradition meets ambition> I'm interested to know what are ADS' aims and ambitions for this year's show compared with 2012, and if it is still an important event for ADS and its members. “Taking a strategic view, the two biggest areas for ADS are the work that is being done around the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) and the Defence Growth Partnership (DGP). It's an opportunity to showcase to the world what UK industry and Government are doing within these industrial strategic activities. There's no doubt we are moving towards delivery on the AGP and what people will see at the show is the physical presence of the Aerospace Technology Institute and get a flavour for the research it is coordinating on behalf of industry and Government. We'll have examples and companies participating in the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), which provides funding and mentoring for SMEs to help them develop new products and support the UK supply chain. We'll also have at least one hundred graduating MSc students who have received bursaries this year, and also those who are signed up to do their MScs this September. This is us, if you like, investing in the future of our industry: the right kind of technology development, the right kind of supply chain and the right kind of people to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.” Everitt believes the UK aerospace industry is doing something pretty special and different, and focused very much on meeting the challenges that the sector faces in the future. “At a tactical level, ADS will be orchestrating a UK pavilion which is already signed up and sold out. We'll be organising various civil and military delegation programmes and a Meet-the-Buyer programme which presents an opportunity for SMEs to engage directly with major customers. Alongside this we have an Innovation Zone which presents the UK's research and academic excellence. We're examining everything that will make the aircraft of the future and the manufacturing technology that is going to be required to deliver them. “We also have a Futures Day where we expect approximately 7,500 young people aged 11-21 to be onsite and getting a flavour for what working in the aerospace industry is like, and hopefully exciting and enthusing them about careers available too. There will be a structured series of activities for these young people to take part in during the course of the day and they will be able to sign up to a variety of programmes ranging from inspirational speakers, tasks and challenges to give them a flavour of the kinds of challenges around, visits key exhibits, aircraft on display and meet some of the people involved. This is a structured programme of activity which we think will excite the young people, and begin the process of creating relationships between young people and the companies that are participating, as well as the universities and colleges who will also be present too.” <High hopes?> In terms of the benefits in attending and exhibiting, what, in Everitt's view can ADS' members expect during the event? “Being at Farnborough means having an opportunity to present what you do to global buyers. And being part of the specific ADS activities provides you with a range of support and access that you would find difficult to do on your own. Because we're coordinating much of the delegation and Meet-the-Buyer programmes, plus all senior government and ministerial visits too, we have the opportunity to ensure those who are participating with us get the best opportunity to meet and engage with some of those key stakeholders.” I'm interested to know what mechanisms the event offers ADS members that best typify improving their engagement and contact with the primes' supply chain programmes. “Farnborough is a major global exhibition, so there are opportunities for those participating to create the contacts that can help them access some of the opportunities emerging in our sector. We're in a ‘growth' business – the aerospace sector is growing globally and the UK is well-positioned to win business, not just with our traditional customer base, but those emerging in various parts of the world. Part of ADS' role and also its strength is that we have developed strategic relationships with those key customers over long periods of time and they are keen to work with us and access the expertise that lies within the UK industry.” With recession-driven defence cutbacks in recent years, just how much confidence is there in the ‘D' of ADS among its members in terms of future business and the industry at large? “There are clearly constraints on defence expenditure – not just in the UK, but in markets around world. Please remember that the UK has one of the largest defence budgets in the world and has a £164 billion equipment programme which is still on track and has commitment for the next decade. It's not an easy market, but it's still nonetheless a strong one. “Through the work of the DGP, we're preparing ourselves to be more competitive particularly in the export markets where there are strong opportunities. The traditional markets are under pressure because of the difficult financial situation we've experienced over the last few years, but there are plenty of markets in the world where there is growth in expenditure and genuine interest in the capabilities and expertise that the UK possesses. Farnborough represents a fantastic opportunity to be presenting this expertise and to be engaging with the key decision makers of these major countries.” <Bring me sunshine> What more will ADS be doing to highlight SC21 during Farnborough and how much progress is the continuous improvement programme actually making? “We will definitely be holding an SC21 awards event during the course of the week which is scheduled for the Thursday and as ever, this is a great opportunity for companies to celebrate not only the work they're doing, but also to see the challenges that still lie ahead. We're seeing a greater recognition of the difference that attaining award level status within the SC21 initiative has on business performance. In our sectors, SC21 is recognised and acknowledged by all of the key purchasers and for most of the businesses involved, SC21 represents a return on investment of 40:1. SC21 is all about delivering bottom line benefit to your business.” Finally, and with the weather permitting, Farnborough will act as a shop window to the global aerospace industry. What more does Everitt think the UK aerospace manufacturing industry needs to do in order to maintain its #1 position in Europe? “We are doing everything we can, but in the grand scheme of things it's a relatively straightforward proposition,” concludes Everitt. “We need to be investing in our technology development, the skills of our people and the plant and machinery we require to deliver the products of the future. If we can continue to do this, then we will continue to be a major player. What's really exciting is the way in which – across the entire political spectrum – there is recognition that the UK needs an industrial future and one that is based around the successful sectors we already have in the UK. There is no doubt that the aerospace industry is certainly one, if not the most successful sector we have.”

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