Aerospace: Voyaging to the Horizon and Beyond

Curiosity has always been one of the important aspects of human nature. It took humanity from the jungle all the way to the big city life. The very desire to fly in the sky like a bird inspired the invention of an airplane. And when Wright brothers, in 1903, took their first flight, none could’ve imagined of the human expeditions to the infinite oceans of the universe.

Today, man has reached planets, never discovered before, in pursuit of a new habitat. This intrinsic trait of human nature has always led to fantasies about the space within and outside the earth’s atmosphere and has opened a door of endless prospects. One such opportunity named Aerospace Industry is defining the future of human race.

Aerospace, a term derived from two words; aeronautics and spaceflight, has become a prominent entity in business language. This industry is mainly characterized by state-of-the-art technology and latest advancements in engineering application making it the most competitive domain. Therefore, unveiling it layer by layer has become very much significant in the contemporary world.

A multifaceted sphere

The states which employ advanced armaments in their defence systems, people who travel by plane for business or leisure, companies that ship commodities by air and finally, organizations of all types working to conquer space, are connected by a common thread of the aerospace industry. This unimaginably vast domain has touched multiple disciplines of human life.

The aerospace industry encompasses not only sectors of aviation and the space, but also the arms and ammunition industry. It mainly includes the design, manufacture, marketing and overhaul of aircrafts as well as associated propulsion and control systems. Moreover, the space sector which integrates the highest form of precision and cutting edge technology, deals with sending manned as well as unmanned flights into space. Indeed, aeronautical and space weapons (planes, drones, missiles) are essential in today’s military framework. Aerospace has successfully incorporated wide-ranging fields of aviation, space and military sectors, technologically and industrially which makes this industry a cut above the rest.

Economic impact

An industry which helps to reduce fiscal deficit of a country by generating loads of foreign currency and creating proportionate amount of employment is considered to be of prime importance. USA, being the dominant player in this arena, has been majorly assisted by its own defence demand, fuelling the astronomical growth of this industry. The country is home to some of the leading manufacturers in the aerospace sector like Boeing, and a primary exporter of both civil as well as military aerospace hardware to the rest of the world.

One statistical report states that the United States contributed about 408 billion U.S. dollars to the global revenue through its aerospace sector surpassing France by a whopping $339 billion margin. It underlines monetary value of the sector and its potential to propel the economy.

However, many non-American companies from Europe and Asia-Pacific regimes like that of France, UK, Russia, Germany, Japan, India, and China are proving to be a stiff challenge to the US monopoly. Emerging counterparts like Argentina, Israel, Brazil and Sweden are also making their way into the field.

An industry of strategic importance

In view of its political and strategic implications, it is debatable to restrict the analysis of the aerospace industry to a purely economic dimension. The aerospace industry is twofold; it is an activity, at once civil or commercial, and military on the other front. In the wake of continuously intensifying geopolitical tensions and increasing demand of military equipment, the traditional financial support of national governments for this industry gets justified. The military aspect of this sector gives it its strategic character. Further, its ‘Industry of sovereignty’ persona and key role in establishing intercontinental balance underline the aerospace industry’s dominance.

Challenges

With the ever-changing dynamics of world economy, aerospace industry is experiencing a major shift. Major industry giants and emerging countries along with private entities like SpaceX are shaping the industry’s future. However, governments’ emphasis on defence sector spending, globalisation of economies, commercialization of space and prospect of its low-cost access together has curbed the expansion. Therefore, the last decade experienced a wave of counter measures such as divestitures, consolidations, mergers, and international joint ventures.

While flipping through chapters of soaring human endeavours into the space, one must be amazed with the heights achieved over the years. Complexities involved in this crafting gravity-defying technology were very high due to imperceptible factors. Nevertheless, two prime aspects in the form of safety and environmental conservation have always drawn attention.

Safety

Safety does not happen by chance. It demands perseverance, dedication, a vow to excellence and the brightest minds from the field working towards a singular outcome. Considering the intricacies involved in aviation and space-flight, safety of the passengers is one of the most crucial tasks to achieve.

Over the years, aviation has gained popularity in terms of protection of passengers. Reiterating the industry’s credibility, BBC states, “When compared to all other modes of transport, on a ‘fatality per mile basis’, air transport is the safest — six times safer than traveling by car; twice as safe as rail.” However, incidents in recent times like missing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and Airbus A321 crash have kept this field in search of better. Therefore, meeting and exceeding the best available norms is the key to continue the strong record of safety that exists in aerospace. Thanks to initiatives like Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System and scrutinizing processes for new products during the research, development and testing, sky is now safer than it has ever been.

Efforts towards sustainable growth

Over the last few decades, probably no industry has done better to mitigate its impact on environment than the aerospace industry. On the account of modern designs of aircrafts and space-flights equipped with revolutionary cryogenic engines, fuel efficiency like never before could be achieved. This has helped in dramatic decrease in fuel burned and harmful emissions. New aircraft and spaceship models under continuous development cycle assure to make even bigger gains in efficiency, cutting the industry’s carbon footprint even further.

Additionally, the international aerospace industry is investing an extraordinary capital in taking environmental performance to one notch higher with advances like alternative fuels and even more efficient engines and airframes. Coupled with fuel-saving gains in operations and air transportation system transformation, these improvements will make aviation even greener than it is today.

Future

The global aerospace and defence (A&D) industry experienced and recuperated a solid year as passenger travel demand is strengthened and global military expenditure is continued to rise. In the commercial aerospace sector, aircraft order backlog remains at an all-time high as demand for next-generation, fuel-efficient aircraft continues to rise with the surge in oil prices. For defence domain, changed diplomacy scenario and higher armed force spending by other major regional powers like China, India and Japan are expected to drive global defence sector growth in 2019 and beyond. Additionally, space agencies like NASA, ESA and others are unprecedentedly ardent about exploring deeper parts of the galaxy. Therefore, aerospace industry is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the following years also on the account of growing aircraft production, strong defence spending and space expeditions.

It is evident that the aerospace industry which was started out of sheer curiosity in the earlier part of the 20th century has taken up a gigantic form. With economic prosperity at the core, aerospace industry also assumes greater responsibility of making nations self-reliant in the security regime. Though, challenges imposed in the wake of sustainable growth are causing shift in the fraternity. But a domain which is at the zenith of technological innovation and engineering application, the aerospace industry will continue to shape the future of the world.

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