Scotland’s £1.3bn aerospace industry looks set to form a Government-backed consortium this year in a bid to boost its competitive position against global rivals.
The idea could involve member companies making joint approaches to potential customers. It is being discussed with Scottish industry minister Gus McDonald.
Some 15% of the UK aerospace industry is based in Scotland, employing 14,000 people and providing 2% of Scottish GDP. It makes up 10% of Scottish manufacturing, and includes firms like British Aerospace, Marconi and Rolls-Royce.
The Scottish Office has agreed to gauge support among aerospace companies for a consortium, and is in talks with Scottish Enterprise on how to support the Scottish aerospace industry.
‘We’re trying to ensure that the Scottish Parliament recognises the aerospace industry as a major asset with significant market potential,’ said Ian Gowdie, who runs a regional defence and aerospace business network for the West of Scotland.
‘With aerospace industry rationalisation, there is a concern that we may lose out unless the Scottish Parliament has a strategy for supporting the industry in Scotland,’ Gowdie said.
Rachel Squire, Labour MP for Dunfermline West, raised the idea in November with Gowdie and Mike Clifford, head of the Consortium of Lancashire Aerospace (CLA), on which the new grouping will be modelled.
‘If prime contractors and suppliers are going to survive rationalisation, they need to work more closely together,’ Squire said.
England has three regional aerospace organisations: the CLA, the West of England Aerospace Forum and the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium.
‘Scotland hasn’t followed this English example of getting interested employers to work together,’ Squire added.
Gowdie said the idea was spawned after manufacture of the British Aerospace Jetstream aircraft ceased in Prestwick in 1997.