In recent years, a number of trends have occurred to help create and maintain a booming aerospace industry: the rise in space exploration, an increase in international travel and industry, and the global expansion of businesses have all played a part in helping aerospace to expand and evolve.
The hub of the movement is focused in the United States; as the nation with the largest aerospace sector, the US acts as the main supplier of civil and military aerospace hardware to other nations around the world. In total, the industry serves five markets: space, commercial airliners, military aircraft, missiles, and general aviation.
The growth is good news, as the aerospace industry is a major employer. The sector directly provides jobs to over 500,000 workers, including those in technical and scientific fields, as well as supporting over 700,000 jobs in related fields. These numbers look likely to increase, as aviation remains one of the fastest-growing industries across the US. It has been steadily increasing annually at a rate of around 14%.
Read about the advantages of manufacturing overseas.
The Main Areas
The aerospace industry is a large one and consists of a wide variety of different areas, specialisms, and sectors.
Production and Parts
Perhaps unsurprisingly, production and manufacturing remain key areas in the aerospace industry. A single flight vehicle may require millions of individual parts, and these need to be designed, manufactured, transported, fitted, and checked. Once in place, the parts also need to be operated and maintained, and this can result in a wealth of jobs and required expertise.
Aerospace exports support a greater number of jobs than the export of any other commodity in the country. 2018 saw the industry contribute $151 billion in export sales to the US economy, and this rose to $351.60 billion in 2019.
Outside the United States, the greatest exporters in the industry are France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. These are the countries consistently making seriously impressive profits from aerospace exports, even in difficult markets.
While the aerospace industry as a whole has been negatively impacted by the global crisis, insiders are confident that exports will be able to recover as the world opens up again.
It could take several years, however, for the market to retain pre-2020 levels of profit. Ultimately, success in this area is likely to depend primarily on demand.
The last year has seen a new interest in the issue of space exploration, and the aerospace industry is reaping the benefits here, allowing the industry to continue to grow and evolve. Many companies in the commercial space subsector have taken to working on designs for spacecraft, including rockets, as well as the manufacturing of parts and final products.
As interest and investment continue to build, companies investing in space exploration are sure to see very healthy revenue growth. In addition to design and manufacturing, there are likely to be opportunities in related areas, including laboratories, research, communications, education, and even tourism.
Companies such as Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and SpaceX appear determined to pour some serious investment into this sector, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are flight devices that do not have a pilot onboard the craft. They are either piloted remotely or are capable of autonomous flight.
Drones are the best-known example. These are common in the military and research, as well as increasingly for recreational use by hobbyists.
Retail moguls such as Amazon have recently expressed interest in using drones and drone technology to deliver their products. This could unlock a whole new world for the aerospace industry, and offer new opportunities for growth.
Sadly, our modern world dictates that aviation security needs to remain a top priority, as developers and industry experts search for increasingly sophisticated solutions to the ongoing terrorism threats.
This effort includes preempting the risk of cybersecurity threats. From analysts to programmers, software developers to counter-terrorism professionals, this is a sector of the industry that will always be in demand.
As we move towards trying to achieve a greener world, there are also a number of opportunities for businesses interested in the research, development, and sale of more eco-friendly alternatives to aviation fuel—a notoriously damaging substance for the planet.
Alternative options can also help to counter a major industry issue—the volatility of the price of jet fuel and, so, open up more avenues for profit.