UK aerospace firms failing to respond to US e-challenge

A government-backed report has urged the UK’s aerospace industry to accelerate its take-up of e-business initiatives or risk being dominated by the US.

The study, prepared for the Department of Trade and Industry by PA Consulting, claims the internet’s potential to force further globalisation and consolidation has major implications for UK aerospace companies, particularly small and medium-sized ones.

According to the report, widespread discussion of e-business in the UK industry has so far resulted in little action. By contrast, major US aerospace manufacturers are applying increasing pressure on suppliers to adopt web-enabled collaboration in a drive for cost reduction.

Jeremy Hammant, the PA consultant who wrote the report, said: ‘The result will be that UK design authority may be increasingly relinquished to overseas competitors, impacting long-term on the UK’s competitiveness in both manufacturing and lifetime support of aircraft and systems.’

The study highlights a number of perceived barriers to e-business adoption in the UK’s aerospace industry. These include the cost of implementation, concerns over data security and an unwillingness to share information.

Hammant urged individual firms to prioritise their e-business initiatives, and also called on industry bodies such as the Society of British Aircraft Companies to get involved by developing a shared web site.

This could provide links to current e-business initiatives and access to relevant information for companies attempting to develop a strategy.’To take no action would be to miss the opportunity for the UK to secure an international advantage, and risk increasing domination by better e-enabled US competitors,’ said Hammant.

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