Automotive/ Aerospace Industry Positive outlook

Author / Editor: Martin Courtney / Barbara Schulz

World - Vehicle and aircraft manufacturers are positive about 2017. Increased passenger traffic is pushing up demand for new aircraft, whilst new models are expected to drive automotive sales.

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The aerospace and automotive industries are key sources of demand for plastics and metal component manufacturers, and fluctuations in associated economic activity often determine the outlook for investment in machine tools and moulding equipment.

2016 appears to have been a good year for the aerospace industry so far but 2017 looks equally promising, with the commercial sector expected to see continued growth in revenue and operating earnings driven by expanding passenger numbers and demand for next-generation aircraft. Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) calculate that the volume of global air passenger traffic continue to increase in 2016, though at a slightly slower pace than in previous years. Nevertheless, it predicts solid growth for 2017, particularly Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and airlines are rushing to expand their fleet capacity to handle the increasing demand for seats.

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New aircraft orders pushing growth

Global consultancy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd estimates that by the end of 2016 1,420 large commercial aircraft will have been manufactured, with a further 1,490 expected in 2017. As of September of this year, aircraft manufacturer Airbus had recorded 380 orders for its latest passenger aircraft from global airlines including Vietjet, Quantas, Vietnam Airlines, the French Air Force, RwandAir, AirAsia, Pegasus Airlines, Emirates, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Latam and Qatar Airways.

That demand is filtering down the supply chain to component makers who are upgrading their own manufacturing capacity to meet orders from Airbus and others. Spanish company Sofitec won a €45m deal with Germany-based Premium Aerotec to supply composite fuselage components for the A350XWB, for example, with the first items due to ship between January and March 2017. Airbus also selected Stratasys’ ULTEM 9085 3D printing material for the production of resin flight parts for the A350XWB.

UK-based supplier of fasteners, fixings and other components FSL Aerospace saw an 18% increase in turnover in its last financial year after signing long-term agreements with established aerospace manufacturers expected to deliver £1m of additional revenue over the course of the next few years.

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