The aerospace industry is currently experiencing an innovative period marked by manufacturers racing to produce high quality and technologically advanced aircraft. Boeing is an example of an aerospace company that is experimenting with new technologies at an accelerated speed.
Traditionally, the aerospace industry has been fairly risk adverse when adopting new technologies and has taken its time to validate new technologies due to the safety critical nature of aviation itself. However, because companies are now dealing with new technologies at an accelerated rate, there is an increased risk of problems that manufacturers may not expect when producing products. If there are problems found when producing aircraft, airlines could see delayed deliveries. The 787 is a good example of this.
Currently, aircraft can take approximately five years to be designed, developed, tested and manufactured. There is typically a year or so of flight testing depending on the number of flight test vehicles before aircraft can be certified by the FAA or other certifying party. Historically, manufacturers would wait up to ten years before designing or significantly upgrading a new aircraft type. However, within the last decade, the time between new aircraft releases has been reduced due to market and competitive pressures. The market pressure being things like the cost of jet fuel driving the demand for more fuel efficient aircraft coupled with relatively easy money or low interest rates. This along with the competition between Boeing & Airbus, as well as the tier I system suppliers, has driven significant technological advancements and the associated development cycles have been reduced.
The aerospace industry is also facing changes based an overall reduction in global defense spending. With very limited new aircraft programs of record for the USG coming within the next decade (mainly UCLASS, FVL & Next Gen Bomber), competition is fierce and Boeing and their investors are more focused than ever on their commercial business and growing their production rates to keep up with demand.
The future of the aerospace industry is sure to be challenging and will see many companies competing for business. What do you think about the changing aerospace industry?