Andy Chambers
27 April 2017

Is stability returning to aerospace in Dorset?

Cobham and Meggitt Q1 FY17

Meggitt and Cobham both provided in line trading statements this morning, although the current position of both companies is somewhat diverged.

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21 April 2017

The MOD is open for business again

‘Accelerator’ project intended to encourage innovation but may also encourage acquisitions

Historically, defence technologies used to lead development of civilian technologies. However, military research and development (R&D) budgets have been constrained over the past five years so we have seen civilian technologies leading the way, particularly in the communications sphere. I was therefore encouraged to read about the UK MOD’s new ‘Accelerator’ programme, which funds novel, high-risk and high-potential benefit research to develop new capabilities for UK defence and security.

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29 March 2017

China to build UAVs in Saudi Arabia

UK’s biggest defence export market looks east

Saudi Arabia has signed a strategic partnership with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) in order to establish the manufacturing of Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Saudi Arabia. This announcement is significant for two reasons; first it shows that Chinese defence companies are now competing with their western peers, and second it will challenge the UK Government to become comfortable with Chinese made military hardware operating alongside UK built military aircraft.

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1 March 2017

Boeing comes to Sheffield

The US aerospace giant is spreading its wings into Europe

Last week, Boeing announced it would be opening its first ever manufacturing facility in Europe. Where will it be I hear you ask? Sheffield. I imagine that isn’t what you were expecting. I certainly wasn’t. The decision is significant for two reasons; what it says about Boeing’s relationship with Europe, and what it says about UK industrial capability.

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19 January 2017

2017…the year of the rooster, Trump and flying cars

What does the year have in store for Aerospace & Defence stocks?

The Aerospace & Defence sector has two distinct sides to it, with civil aerospace and defence often proffering very different investment narratives. Historically, terrorism and political instability have tended to cause the two sides of the sector to diverge, with defence valuations surging and civil valuations falling. This happened most notably after 9/11 in 2001. At the end of 2016 though, a year defined by terror attacks and political turmoil, the situation was quite different. Defence stocks were the stand out performers during last year, driven initially by the fact global defence spending is now growing, having been in decline from 2011 – 2015, and more latterly by Donald Trump’s US election victory. However, civil stocks have also performed well. Although there have been a high number of terror attacks during 2016, improved airport security measures have forced terrorists to seek new targets and so aerospace stocks have been largely unaffected, and in fact have continued to benefit from the structural growth of passengers numbers which continues to drive output growth. So what does 2017 have in store for aerospace and defence?

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5 January 2017

Do we need another Strategic Defence and Security Review?

UK Armed Forces have secretly begun preparing for another round of defence cuts

In last July’s blog ‘Can aerospace & defence weather Brexit?’  I wrote that the economic and political impact of the UK’s decision to leave the UK would require a new Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). This has proved wrong thus far; Theresa May has maintained that the strategy remains intact and therefore the 2015 SDSR is extant and fit for purpose. However, press reports over Christmas that the UK Armed Forces have secretly begun preparing for another round of defence cuts suggest that my prediction may yet come true.

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18 November 2016

One man’s gift is another man’s bribe

How has the 2010 Bribery Act impacted Aerospace & Defence?

The recent BBC Panorama entitled ‘How Rolls-Royce bribed its way around the world” prompted me to revisit the 2010 Bribery Act. Crucially I wanted to understand whether Rolls-Royce’s business activities prior to the Act becoming law in July 2011 could be looked at retrospectively? And what punishments does the SFO have in its arsenal? In answering these questions, it is interesting to look at how the Aerospace & Defence industry is adapting in order to operate within the law. 

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Andy Chambers
1 November 2016

It pays to be civil in the long run

Backlog execution should enable improved investor returns

By the end of September, Boeing and Airbus had surpassed an aggregate of 1,000 aircraft deliveries as previously announced product introductions and rate increases continue to drive up demand across the aerospace supply chain. By the year end the two companies are expected to deliver an aggregate of around 1425 aircraft, slightly higher than in 2015.

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11 October 2016

Heathrow vs. Gatwick?

The airport expansion debate rages on

Are we finally about to get an answer to the Heathrow vs. Gatwick airport expansion question? MPs are scheduled to debate the question of UK airport capacity next Tuesday (18 October) as the Prime Minister has indicated a desire to finally make a decision on an issue the Conservative Government has thus far managed to sweep under the carpet. Interestingly, the debate will be set against the backdrop of new research which shows that it is the road traffic in and around the airport that is the main contributor to emissions, not the aircraft themselves.

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6 September 2016

Does a smaller military present an opportunity for industry?

MOD statistics show significant troop shortfall

Last month’s UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel statistics show the UK Armed Forces have a personnel deficit of 4.1%, and strikingly the number of trained soldiers in the Army is at its lowest since 1750. The doomsayers note that this recruitment crisis means the UK would struggle to respond to a major crisis. However, could this not provide an interesting opportunity for the defence industry to show how the right equipment means you do not need as many troops?

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23 August 2016

What does the future hold for NATO?

Trump and Corbyn refuse to support Article 5

9/11 was the first time that NATO’s article five – an attack on one member state is an attack all – had been invoked. It sent a powerful message about the strength of the alliance. Every member of NATO, no matter how small, provided assistance to the United States during the campaign in Afghanistan.  Fifteen years on and the alliance is arguably in its weakest position since its formation in 1949. Politicians in six major member nations have questioned the point of NATO and only five of the twenty-eight states spent the guideline 2% of GDP on defence. Could this be ‘make or break’ for NATO? And if so what could this mean for the defence industry?

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9 August 2016

Common sense in UK defence?

The UK MOD is to buy its new fleet of Apaches directly from Boeing

In my blog last week I highlighted the calamitous processes, and often illogical decisions that characterise defence procurement. However, the announcement during the Farnborough Air Show that the MOD will buy 50 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters from Boeing may well be turn out to be one of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) most sensible decisions yet.

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Andy Chambers
4 August 2016

Have you heard of GKN?

Making things work for more than a quarter of a millennium

Watching a BBC documentary of a behind the scenes look at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games reminded me of how the industrial revolution was a centre piece of the performance, creating the illusion of the Olympic rings being forged from steel. Had it happened back in the latter part of the 18th century as new processes changed Britain for ever, those rings may well have been forged in iron by one of the UK’s greatest global brands. GKN’s forebears have been making things happen for over 250 years and the company Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds was formed via merger in 1902. The company is one of our leading global manufacturers, and yet it is hardly a household name.

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28 July 2016

What do amazon drones and BMX bikes have in common?

How civilian technologies are leading the defence industry

What do Amazon drones and BMX bikes have in common? The answer – the use of cutting edge ‘sense and avoidance’ technology, developed by the civil aerospace industry. Traditionally in the A&D sector, pioneering technologies were developed by the defence industry (funded at least in part by Government customers) and then used in the civil aerospace industry. However, as Governments looks to rein their spending, companies are developing new technologies for civil applications, which will then in time be used in the military sphere. The use of ‘sense and avoid’ technology by Amazon to step up its drone tests, and by British BMX cyclists in preparation for next week’s Olympics are timely examples of this.

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27 July 2016

The summer of hate

The impact of terrorism on the Aerospace & Defence sector

An article in the press today described the summer of 2016 as the “summer of hate”.  The relentless pace of the attacks has invoked terror into the minds of ordinary people and politicians have been forced to make frequent declarations of their determination to protect their citizens.  It therefore seems logical to me that the summer of 2016 will be one which shapes the near term future for Aerospace and Defence companies.

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Andy Chambers
15 July 2016

The rain fell mainly on the planes

Farnborough Airshow 2016 rant, sorry round up

When considering my view on the Farnborough International Airshow 2016 it is tempting to focus on the chaos of the first couple of days at the show. Monday’s washout was spectacular, and when we were eventually cleared from the site at around 5.30pm there was hardly anybody left. Even the ice cream van had gone home!

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15 July 2016

Full speed ahead for Successor

UK's nuclear deterrent looks assured with May as PM

On Wednesday evening, Theresa May was asked to write her orders for how the military should react in the event of nuclear war. Not exactly the easiest first few hours in a new job and probably cause for a sleepless night. However, the executives at the top of the UK defence industry will probably have slept a little more soundly as the future of Trident finally looks secure under her leadership.

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5 July 2016

Can aerospace & defence weather Brexit

Impact of lower GDP growth on the aerospace & defence industry

I am a firm believer that GDP growth is the most important driver behind the health of the aerospace & defence sector. A strong economy increases people’s propensity to travel, and defence budgets are set as a percentage of GDP. I acknowledge that the two sides of the sector are both affected by a number of other factors (the oil price, new technologies, geopolitical tensions, etc) and both industries are global. However, the Treasury’s projection that in two years’ time UK GDP will be 3.6% lower than if we had remained in the EU forces me to pause for thought as to the possible impact of Brexit on the sector over the long term.

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