Up in the Air – The Great Trajectory of the Aerospace Industry

aerospace industryDespite sluggish economies and de-growth in many parts of the world, the rapid globalization of products and services continues. Uncertainties regarding costs and labor have been pushing more businesses to explore inexpensive alternatives across the world. Business travel and tourism have also seen some fillip in the past few years.

A large part of this has been possible due to and has also given a further boost to the increase in air travel. Commercial aviation has seen significant ups with large orders and the advent of different airlines across many nations and air traffic growing consistently.

There has also been a renewed interest in the aerospace industry. It does not remain a monopolistic sub-function of the defense sector anymore, but many private players are also showing interest in aspects like transportation to outer space etc. But the industry is seeing development on many fronts – software, hardware and education.

Who’s interested?

The past couple of years have seen many other emerging economies like China, Nigeria, Sri Lanka etc. actively revisit their initiatives in this area with varying degrees of success. The recent success of India’s “Mangalyaan” (the Mars vehicle) however has been a case in point where a successful project was launched at a fraction of costs that NASA spends on similar projects. This has given a fillip to many other nations apart from leading western players, who are now looking at strengthening their indigenous aerospace engineering capabilities.

What’s triggering the interest?

Some of main reasons for countries to invest in these programs not only include enhanced status in the scientific community, but also improvements in communications and other geological processes like weather forecasts and surface or seabed mappings. The aerospace industry is often an offshoot of a nation’s defense program and technological advancements in the former add significantly to military prowess.

What’s needed to succeed?

The key ingredient for effective aerospace technologies is successful public-private partnerships in manufacturing, skilling and smart technologies. With defense spends being tightly under the scanner, governments are encouraging more private players to come forward to upgrade their current aerospace programs through precision engineering, heavy manufacturing and development of innovative and autonomous systems. Advances in robust supply chains are also required to grow simultaneously.

Another focus area is on software development. With unmanned aerial vehicles and large scale military interventions heavily dependent on aerospace equipment, smart technologies, remote controlling and automation are imperative.
Aerospace education has been a niche, but the demand for skilled workers who can understand both software and hardware coupled with an aptitude for new technologies and robotics is growing exponentially.

Players in the aerospace industry are increasingly looking to collaborate with other organizations to leverage economies of scale. Though the US, Canada and Europe continue to be leading players in this industry with 70% share of exports, there is collective interest in China and the Middle East as production hubs and take advantage of costs to export to Asia and Africa.

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[Image credit: David Gray, Flickr]

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