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1999 Archives

British Aerospace on Top
For Immediate Release

AEROSPACE companies in the United Kingdom have topped all three manufacturing categories in a new survey carried out by the international Aviation Week magazine.

The survey, which measured the competitiveness of aerospace companies, named British Aerospace as the leading large aviation company with UK-based Smiths Industries heading the medium-size company category and Umeco, a provider of value-added distribution services to the European aerospace industry, being chosen as the industry's best small company.

In addition to their improved competitiveness in terms of manufacturing in the three categories covering different size companies, the UK trio were among those listed by the survey as the industry's top five companies. The survey report says there has been "a sea-change in the performance of UK companies compared with their United States rivals since 1994, and that level of performance has moved to the forefront in the last year."

It continued: "It has been steadily building and today the overall performance of many US companies is inferior to those of UK organisations. The percentage improvement over US large, medium and small companies in most areas is staggering."

A spokesman for the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), the UK's national aerospace trade association, explained: "The survey reveals substantial progress across the four measures of competitiveness - a trend that reflects three years of consistent improvement. When all the categories are combined, three of the five top companies are British. Umeco comes out on top followed by Smiths Industries and British Aerospace."

The SBAC, which represents more than 400 companies across the whole spectrum of the industry from airframes and aero engines to equipment, materials, guided weapons and satellites, is one of the leaders of a new UK initiative to find the balance between the benefits of air travel and the impact it has on the environment. Aviation accounts for just 3.5 per cent of the man-made activities that contribute to global warming but this figure is forecast to rise significantly as air travel continues to grow strongly over the next 50 years.

The SBAC and others have formed an Aviation Environment Group that aims to bring together aircraft manufacturers, travel organisations, environmentalists, university researchers and other interested parties to draw up a national strategy and stimulate innovations that could minimise the impact of aviation on the environment.

The group, which includes the Royal Aeronautical Society, British Air Transport Association and Air Operators Association, says innovations across a broad front are needed to enable aviation to continue to develop in a sustainable way.

Technology could, for example, reduce fuel consumption by a further 50 per cent but the necessary research is becoming "increasingly demanding." Improvements in air traffic management could also reduce stacking and provide more direct routings to save fuel and curb emissions.

SBAC says while early jet airliners were noisy and left trails of smoke and fumes in their wake, today's planes are much quieter and cleaner. The spokesman continued: "Despite their much higher speed, the fuel consumption and emissions of a modern aircraft, per passenger carried, are comparable to those of a mid-sized car or train."

The Society of British Aerospace Companies
Duxbury House, 60 Petty France, London, United Kingdom, SW1H 9EU
Telephone: +44 171 227 1000
Fax: +44 171 227 1067.

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