Aerospace suppliers `10-years out of date’

UK aerospace suppliers are under threat from outdated ways of working and growing overseas competition, according to a report by the Society of British Aerospace Companies. Suppliers to the aerospace industry are up to a decade behind the automotive sector on working practices, the report says. `This report is a serious wake-up call. UK suppliers […]

UK aerospace suppliers are under threat from outdated ways of working and growing overseas competition, according to a report by the Society of British Aerospace Companies.

Suppliers to the aerospace industry are up to a decade behind the automotive sector on working practices, the report says.

`This report is a serious wake-up call. UK suppliers have got to modernise and improve,’ a SBAC spokesman said.

Aerospace firms have been trying to follow the automotive model for several years by copying such methods as the `preferred supplier’ approach.

Although two-thirds of the aerospace industry is on track with such improvements, the others have a `business as usual’ attitude, the report says. It warns that if they fail to change they could be put out of business by reduced defence budgets and consolidation among manufacturers.

Supplier competition is likely to grow in Europe with the advent of the single Airbus company, and an open tendering system will enable suppliers across the continent to compete for business.

Chris Paxton, aerospace analyst at management consultancy AT Kearney, said UK companies need to look for work abroad: `Suppliers are going to be exposed to much greater competition. There will be substantial work outside the UK and suppliers will have a problem if they’re not operating in Europe.’

* The threat to the supply chain is in marked contrast to prospects for manufacturers, which face improving prospects next year with GKN Westland’s EH 101 helicopter and BAE System’s work on the Eurofighter project.

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