The United States aircraft industry continues to be a critical element of economic, political, and military power. It is second to none in export dollars and fills a place that cannot be substituted by any other industry. The U.S. aircraft industry was once dominant in the global aircraft market, but Europe has now reached a level of parity in commercial transport sales and is closing the gap in military and rotorcraft sales. The mergers and reorganizations of the industry's four main sectors--commercial transport and cargo, military fixed-wing, rotorcraft, and jet engines--have slowed and companies are adjusting to these new partnerships. Aircraft manufacturers currently focus more on near term profits and stock value, as the concerns of investors and Wall Street positioning overrides research and development and long term investment. The search for greater profitability continues to drive production process streamlining. This streamlining has promoted healthy competition that has stirred innovation in airframes and engines, management practices, design and manufacturing processes, and production tooling. However, there is still uncertainty in both the commercial and military markets. Future market share and profitability for the U.S. industry hangs on the thin threads of government regulations, politics and partnerships. The correct combination of these factors will determine the future of the U.S. aircraft industry.
Industry Studies 2001