The British aerospace industry is worth billions to the UK economy and one of its major centres is in the south and south east of England.
The Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) supports around 300 companies, most of them SMEs with many in and around the Portsmouth area.
I did some of my flying training from Thorney Island in the early 1960s and the region has remained dear to me ever since. It’s also crucial in the supply chain for a truly global industry. For example, Barnbrook Systems, in Fareham, designs and produces products for the sector, as does Portsmouth Aviation. National company Righton Ltd, which supplies metals and plastics, has an important operation at Portsmouth Service Centre, and Flitetrak in Lee-on-the-Solent manufactures aircraft and seat monitoring systems.
These are examples of some of the businesses that make a major contribution to aerospace supply that we represent.
Every two years we attend the Farnborough Air Show and this year 30 of our members joined us on our impressive stand. We had many visitors and we believe that millions of pounds worth of business was discussed and generated there. This will of course have a positive knock-on effect for the local economy.
The prime minister opened the show and other government ministers toured the trade stands. As a result we were able to speak with them about the sector and what’s important.
Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said he felt a ‘buzz’ when visiting the businesses and there really was a vibrant atmosphere among the FAC members.
Jesse Norman MP, under secretary of state for transport, also visited us and we were able to make the case for the importance of our members, without whom the multi-national companies and the entire sector would otherwise have a smaller supply chain.
Furthermore, this year Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, visited and we were able to lobby him on behalf of our members.
Representatives from industry came from around the world and were clearly impressed with the products and services our members had to offer.
Our aerospace industry was shown to be one of which we can be extremely proud and the breadth of industries represented by the FAC was truly impressive.
It was our best show in terms of interest and business generated and we now look towards our conference in November and the next show in 2020.