A perfect platform for Paris!

AMJun19Features - maa1
AMJun19Features - maa1

The Paris Airshow provides a perfect platform for the buoyant Midlands aerospace sector according to Midlands Aerospace Alliance chief executive, Andrew Mair.

The Midlands aerospace sector is booming and events like the Paris Airshow provide an ideal opportunity to show the world just what we have to offer. Despite turbulent economic conditions, robust global demand provides a strong foundation for our manufacturing base. The Paris Airshow is another show in the calendar that provides the opportunity for companies in the aerospace supply chain to come out in force and fly the flag for the best of British engineering.

The Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA) represents more than 300 regional aerospace businesses, supporting them in developing new technologies, boosting competitiveness and winning new business. Our sector is thriving and well-poised to exploit global growth.

The Paris Airshow is a key event, attracting delegates from across the world to learn more about the latest technological innovations. Along with 14 of our member companies who are exhibiting on the MAA stand, we will once again be out in force at Le Bourget to engage with the global supply chain.

The 2017 show attracted 142,000 trade visitors to see more than 2,300 exhibitors from 48 countries and this year is expected to be even better. This will provide those members who are exhibiting with us a high-profile presence for meeting new and existing contacts right across the aerospace sector.

Midlands companies will use this opportunity to boost their profile and take advantage of aerospace’s impressive growth trajectory. Our latest annual survey of members indicates that business turnover for the Midlands aerospace industry increased by 20% between 2016 and 2018. To maintain that growth, businesses must maintain a high profile and sell their solutions on a global stage. By capitalising on events such as the Paris Airshow, they can rub shoulders with representatives from top OEMs and network with key decision makers.

Meeting the Brexit challenge

When engaging with global players in the sector, it is critical that our aerospace businesses make it clear that despite Brexit, we are open for business, and despite all the machinations in Westminster, UK manufacturers have more appetite than ever to trade.

The uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with Europe is clearly having an impact, yet our cluster’s supply chain companies, large and small, are continuing to look forward and build resilience through investment in skills, plant and technology. They are keener than ever to forge new trading links and secure long-term relationships with global supply chains. This is the key message we will be passing on to our international counterparts at Paris Airshow.

Indeed, we are so confident in the strength of the Midlands aerospace offer that we have invested in a brand new MAA stand within the UK pavilion for the 2019 event and will have a bigger presence than ever before. We have 22 exhibition pods, with some companies taking more than one pod. That is twice as many as in 2017, such is the level of demand from regional businesses.

For the first time, the MAA is also inviting its members to attend a specially organised business networking dinner on the Tuesday evening in central Paris - sponsored by MAA member company, Nasmyth. The dinner will present another valuable opportunity for exhibitors to network and build their profile.

Face-to-face discussion

Despite all the opportunities available to forge new business relationships through communication technology and online, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. The success of key industry events such as the Farnborough Airshow and Aerospace Forum Birmingham bears testament to the need for international gatherings to make contacts, share ideas and debate the hot topics of the day in a collaborative way.

Aerospace is such a complex sector with sophisticated trading relationships and supply chains that maintaining human connections is paramount. These events are seen as critical and valued by businesses at all levels. They offer the opportunity to book an intense programme of meetings with both new and existing customers within a short period of time, saving significant time and money.

Midlands companies can use the Paris Airshow to boost their profile and take advantage of aerospace’s impressive growth trajectory

We saw first-hand the power of these events in March when the Midlands played host to Aerospace Forum Birmingham 2019. Industry representatives from across the world descended on Birmingham’s International Convention Centre for the prestigious three-day event.

Delegates gathered to debate the sector’s future direction just days before Britain was due to exit the EU. An international conference, coordinated by the MAA, saw keynote speakers discuss how the industry can respond to rising demand and global economic pressures, while OEMs and tier 1 companies explained what capabilities they require from their supply chains. This was followed by two days of highly productive pre-arranged face-to-face B2B meetings.

The Paris Airshow promises to be just as successful in forging new relations, strengthening existing bonds and helping UK businesses to secure a decent slice of growing global markets.

It goes without saying that there are challenges ahead for our sector, be it the still-unclear repercussions of Brexit, or global economic pressures. Yet our MAA members are as competitive as ever and poised to exploit new opportunities whenever and wherever they may arise. The UK still boasts fantastic product development trends across a broad spectrum, be it wings, engines or the complex hydro-mechanical and electronic controls systems for wing flight controls, brakes and engines in which the Midlands specialises.

Indeed, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight this year, we should take the chance to reflect on past successes and future possibilities.

Out of 33 Midlands companies we have recently identified that made components and parts for Concorde, an impressive three quarters are still in business making parts for the aerospace industry or other markets half a century later. Ongoing Midlands success stories include Lucas (now Rolls-Royce Control Systems) in Birmingham, which made fuel pumps for the engines required to take Concorde to supersonic speeds, Boulton Paul (now Moog Aircraft Group) in Wolverhampton which manufactured the huge hydraulic actuators that moved the elevons at the rear of aircraft’s wings and rudder, and Dunlop (now Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems) in Coventry which made the wheels and fan-assisted carbon brakes that slowed the aircraft rapidly after its high-speed landing.

These businesses and their supply chains continue to prosper in the Midlands, now supplying future generations of the same product families to aircraft like the Boeing 787, Airbus A220 and Airbus A350.

MAA at the forefront

Across the Midlands, we continue to excel in aircraft systems design and the development of new technology. Businesses are embracing electrification and are at the forefront of innovation including additive manufacturing and advanced composites.

Andrew Mair, chief executive of Midlands Aerospace Alliance

These businesses are securing longevity by guaranteeing a reliable pipeline of new technology, innovation and skills. Our regional manufacturers have worked hard to attract new talent, inspire the engineers of the future and transfer knowledge and values from one generation of workers to the next.

What will the next 50 years have in store for the Midlands aerospace sector? What is certain is that the MAA is already preparing its members to meet the challenges ahead. At the Paris Airshow we will be working hard to support our members by arranging B2B meetings and helping businesses make new in-roads into the global market. The Midlands region will help drive the future of aerospace and we are very proud to be a part of it.

www.midlandsaerospace.org.uk

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