https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/08163218/Travel-company-Halo-has-bought-200-Embraer-Eve-drone-type-eVTOL-vehicles-for-urban-mobility.-100-will-be-deployed-in-the-UK-by-2026-640x360.png
    Aerospace

    Growing rationale for SMEs to seek new aerospace business

    • By MTDCNC
    • July 13, 2021
    • 6 minute read

    After a dire 15-months, what can aerospace suppliers and those with aspirations to access aerospace business look forward to? By Will Stirling

    Business development activity in the civil aerospace industry in the last 12-months has resembled many passenger jets – grounded. But there is a long-term recovery plan in place. Airbus reported in May that it expects its ‘rate’ – the number of finished aircraft that leave the factory each month – to reach 45 by the fourth quarter this year, and to reach 60 by between 2022 and 2023.

    Elsewhere there are pockets of activity. This includes defence aerospace contracts and R&D programmes, and the nascent but exciting new market for low/zero emissions aviation, which includes urban mobility, hydrogen-electric engines and variants of drones for short-distance travel.

    Overall, however, for traditional aerospace, 2021 and into 2022 is a period for rebuilding and reorganisation. Will Stirling asked Dr Andrew Mair, Chief Executive at the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA), about recovery and these new markets.

    How long is the ‘long-term’ recovery?

    Our member directors expect recovery in the civil sector to match Airbus’s forecast: a return to pre-Covid levels by between 2023 and 2025. This will be led by the single-aisle segment, the A320 series. For A320’s, Airbus confirms an average A320 production rate of 45 aircraft per month in Q4 2021 and has called on suppliers to prepare for the future by securing a firm rate of 64 by Q2 2023. Airbus is also asking its suppliers to ‘enable a scenario’ of rate 70 by Q1 2024. This is not the same as direct business opportunities for SMEs, but it’s encouraging that this forecast has not changed since late-2020.

    As a manufacturer of large engines for twin-aisle aircraft, Rolls-Royce expects recovery in this segment to be later. But MAA members report there is more communication taking place in preparation for a ramp-up. One member reported that ‘no news, and stability, is good news’ in the planning for the return of these larger planes.

    On Rolls-Royce, the MAA advises SMEs who are not already onboarded, that now is not the right moment to try breaking into their supply chain, but as with Airbus and other primes, they should aim to access a niche customer of Rolls-Royce further down the tiers.

    Are there new supplier opportunities in the aerospace supply chain?

    There is a lot of churn as you move down the tiers, especially in areas like end tooling and engineering services. Many [higher tier] companies are looking for new customers and suppliers, and we have recently received many requests for information and quotes. Companies are using the Covid-induced downtime to look at their current suppliers, how robust they are, and they are making decisions about insourcing and outsourcing – whether its engines, aerostructures with Airbus and GKN, landing gear systems, avionics, the whole spectrum.

    In September, the MAA will host a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for lower-tier companies. There is a rationale for SME engineering companies to look for new business from tier ones and through indirect routes to the primes.

    Do companies need AS:9001 accreditation to access aerospace contracts?

    Having AS:9001 will not win you new aerospace business, but it shows willing. It shows that you are committed to the long term. It is not a silver bullet. It can take a very long time to win the aerospace business, and new entrants are always surprised by how difficult and long it is. However, long term agreements and security are the rewards.

    Are there any important active aerospace programmes today, even with the wider hiatus?

    Leonardo is developing a new rotary-wing aircraft – or helicopter – working with the Ministry of Defence. They are exploring the UK supply chain, looking for new technologies and materials. While the MoD contract for an aircraft to replace the retiring Puma HC2 fleet, has not officially been awarded yet, Leonardo is hoping that its focus on sourcing parts from UK suppliers will put it in pole position. The MAA hosted a talk with Leonardo about this contract in early June, to signpost the members.

    The MAA international trade team, working indirectly with the Department for International Trade (DIT), is helping to give more UK companies access to defence programmes in the US, accessing contracts from, for example, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.

    And what about urban mobility and the electrification of aerospace?

    The new aviation industry is very exciting – urban mobility, or ‘flying taxis’, hybrid-electric aircraft and more. This is growing to meet the green agenda for aviation, lower or zero emissions. There is a programme called FlyZero organised by the Aerospace Technology Institute, but currently this is for designs for low carbon solutions, not manufacturing. There is a huge opportunity for non-traditional aerospace companies to enter this market. For example, a business in the automotive or motorsport supply chain, whose customers may be diversifying into this area, can come with them.

    Are Rolls-Royce’s low emission engine programmes closed to new suppliers?

    No, UltraFan – the world’s largest aero-engine – should be of interest, because Rolls-Royce builds a separate supply chain for its new product development in parallel to its mass production engine suppliers. Asking the embedded companies to participate in R&D programmes can be disruptive.

    So, because there are supplier opportunities in UltraFan, for example, this is the time for the supply chain to invest in new technology, to take out weight and carbon. Lightweighting is so critical now, anything that can be made lighter while meeting the necessary safety standards will be looked on positively by aerospace tier ones. Making previously metal structures from composites and thermoplastics – there is a lot of innovation in this space.

    This new sector is long term, the volumes will be small and not comparable by value to traditional aerospace. But it will be accessible.

    And aircraft interiors?

    Interiors are treated as a very separate industry to the engines, wings and big sub-assemblies of aircraft. Aircraft seating, for example, is a big sector with several UK players, some of whom have entered from outside aerospace. The weight of all the seats in an aircraft can total more than half the weight of an engine, so if seating can be designed and made lighter, the effect on fuel efficiency can be profound.

    Zero-emission flight

    ZeroAvia is developing the first commercial zero-emission, hydrogen-electric powertrain for aviation. It will make the powertrains that are retrofitted into aircraft platforms. It has a development roadmap for the progressive scale-up of its hydrogen-electric powertrains to power larger aircraft over long distances. One programme is HyFlyer II, a 19-seat powertrain platform, also now aiming for a 50+ seat aircraft. It is planning to deliver market-ready, fully certified 19-seat powertrains by 2024, and larger 50+ seat powertrains from 2026. ZeroAvia has based the HyFlyer I programme at Cranfield Airport.
    In the flying taxi segment, US-UK travel company Halo has claimed to be the first global provider for private urban air mobility in June, when it placed an order for 200 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft from Embraer’s Eve urban air mobility solutions division. This is a long game – the eVTOL is expected to be delivered and operational in 2026. One hundred of the ‘vehicles’ will be used for operations in the United States and 100 will operate in the UK.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/08163218/Travel-company-Halo-has-bought-200-Embraer-Eve-drone-type-eVTOL-vehicles-for-urban-mobility.-100-will-be-deployed-in-the-UK-by-2026-640x360.png

    Growing rationale for SMEs to seek new aerospace business

    After a dire 15-months, what can aerospace suppliers and those with aspirations to access aerospace business look forward to? By Will Stirling

    Business development activity in the civil aerospace industry in the last 12-months has resembled many passenger jets – grounded. But there is a long-term recovery plan in place. Airbus reported in May that it expects its ‘rate’ – the number of finished aircraft that leave the factory each month – to reach 45 by the fourth quarter this year, and to reach 60 by between 2022 and 2023.

    Elsewhere there are pockets of activity. This includes defence aerospace contracts and R&D programmes, and the nascent but exciting new market for low/zero emissions aviation, which includes urban mobility, hydrogen-electric engines and variants of drones for short-distance travel.

    Overall, however, for traditional aerospace, 2021 and into 2022 is a period for rebuilding and reorganisation. Will Stirling asked Dr Andrew Mair, Chief Executive at the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA), about recovery and these new markets.

    How long is the ‘long-term’ recovery?

    Our member directors expect recovery in the civil sector to match Airbus’s forecast: a return to pre-Covid levels by between 2023 and 2025. This will be led by the single-aisle segment, the A320 series. For A320’s, Airbus confirms an average A320 production rate of 45 aircraft per month in Q4 2021 and has called on suppliers to prepare for the future by securing a firm rate of 64 by Q2 2023. Airbus is also asking its suppliers to ‘enable a scenario’ of rate 70 by Q1 2024. This is not the same as direct business opportunities for SMEs, but it’s encouraging that this forecast has not changed since late-2020.

    As a manufacturer of large engines for twin-aisle aircraft, Rolls-Royce expects recovery in this segment to be later. But MAA members report there is more communication taking place in preparation for a ramp-up. One member reported that ‘no news, and stability, is good news’ in the planning for the return of these larger planes.

    On Rolls-Royce, the MAA advises SMEs who are not already onboarded, that now is not the right moment to try breaking into their supply chain, but as with Airbus and other primes, they should aim to access a niche customer of Rolls-Royce further down the tiers.

    Are there new supplier opportunities in the aerospace supply chain?

    There is a lot of churn as you move down the tiers, especially in areas like end tooling and engineering services. Many [higher tier] companies are looking for new customers and suppliers, and we have recently received many requests for information and quotes. Companies are using the Covid-induced downtime to look at their current suppliers, how robust they are, and they are making decisions about insourcing and outsourcing – whether its engines, aerostructures with Airbus and GKN, landing gear systems, avionics, the whole spectrum.

    In September, the MAA will host a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for lower-tier companies. There is a rationale for SME engineering companies to look for new business from tier ones and through indirect routes to the primes.

    Do companies need AS:9001 accreditation to access aerospace contracts?

    Having AS:9001 will not win you new aerospace business, but it shows willing. It shows that you are committed to the long term. It is not a silver bullet. It can take a very long time to win the aerospace business, and new entrants are always surprised by how difficult and long it is. However, long term agreements and security are the rewards.

    Are there any important active aerospace programmes today, even with the wider hiatus?

    Leonardo is developing a new rotary-wing aircraft – or helicopter – working with the Ministry of Defence. They are exploring the UK supply chain, looking for new technologies and materials. While the MoD contract for an aircraft to replace the retiring Puma HC2 fleet, has not officially been awarded yet, Leonardo is hoping that its focus on sourcing parts from UK suppliers will put it in pole position. The MAA hosted a talk with Leonardo about this contract in early June, to signpost the members.

    The MAA international trade team, working indirectly with the Department for International Trade (DIT), is helping to give more UK companies access to defence programmes in the US, accessing contracts from, for example, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.

    And what about urban mobility and the electrification of aerospace?

    The new aviation industry is very exciting – urban mobility, or ‘flying taxis’, hybrid-electric aircraft and more. This is growing to meet the green agenda for aviation, lower or zero emissions. There is a programme called FlyZero organised by the Aerospace Technology Institute, but currently this is for designs for low carbon solutions, not manufacturing. There is a huge opportunity for non-traditional aerospace companies to enter this market. For example, a business in the automotive or motorsport supply chain, whose customers may be diversifying into this area, can come with them.

    Are Rolls-Royce’s low emission engine programmes closed to new suppliers?

    No, UltraFan – the world’s largest aero-engine – should be of interest, because Rolls-Royce builds a separate supply chain for its new product development in parallel to its mass production engine suppliers. Asking the embedded companies to participate in R&D programmes can be disruptive.

    So, because there are supplier opportunities in UltraFan, for example, this is the time for the supply chain to invest in new technology, to take out weight and carbon. Lightweighting is so critical now, anything that can be made lighter while meeting the necessary safety standards will be looked on positively by aerospace tier ones. Making previously metal structures from composites and thermoplastics – there is a lot of innovation in this space.

    This new sector is long term, the volumes will be small and not comparable by value to traditional aerospace. But it will be accessible.

    And aircraft interiors?

    Interiors are treated as a very separate industry to the engines, wings and big sub-assemblies of aircraft. Aircraft seating, for example, is a big sector with several UK players, some of whom have entered from outside aerospace. The weight of all the seats in an aircraft can total more than half the weight of an engine, so if seating can be designed and made lighter, the effect on fuel efficiency can be profound.

    Zero-emission flight

    ZeroAvia is developing the first commercial zero-emission, hydrogen-electric powertrain for aviation. It will make the powertrains that are retrofitted into aircraft platforms. It has a development roadmap for the progressive scale-up of its hydrogen-electric powertrains to power larger aircraft over long distances. One programme is HyFlyer II, a 19-seat powertrain platform, also now aiming for a 50+ seat aircraft. It is planning to deliver market-ready, fully certified 19-seat powertrains by 2024, and larger 50+ seat powertrains from 2026. ZeroAvia has based the HyFlyer I programme at Cranfield Airport.
    In the flying taxi segment, US-UK travel company Halo has claimed to be the first global provider for private urban air mobility in June, when it placed an order for 200 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft from Embraer’s Eve urban air mobility solutions division. This is a long game – the eVTOL is expected to be delivered and operational in 2026. One hundred of the ‘vehicles’ will be used for operations in the United States and 100 will operate in the UK.