WASHINGTON – The
aerospace industry enjoyed record-high sales and profits
this year, with a surge in orders for commercial aircraft,
engines and parts adding to modest gains in spending on
defense and government equipment, the industry's top
official said yesterday.
Total sales jumped
$14 billion, to $184.4 billion, the third straight year of
gains, Aerospace Industry Association President John
Douglass said. Profits grew more modestly.
“The good news is, next year we know we're going to
grow by about $11 billion” in sales, Douglass said in the
industry's annual progress report and forecast.
He predicted additional growth over the next several
years based on a sharp jump in the backlog of commercial
aircraft on order.
The breakdown of the various types of aerospace
products released by Douglass showed civil aircraft sales
jumping $7.4 billion, to $54.6 billion; while military
aircraft nudged up $700 million, to $53.5 billion; and
space systems gained $800 million, to $39.4 billion.
Although there are concerns in the industry that
efforts to control the federal budget deficit could force
cuts in defense spending, Douglass said he was confident
that neither party would reduce support for the military
while troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A key benefactor of the surging airliner sales is
Boeing, which has regained its lead in commercial aircraft
sales over Airbus, a European aerospace giant that has
suffered from stumbles in major new programs, including
the super-jumbo A380 airliner.
The booming market for commercial airliners also helped
boost aerospace industry employment by about 23,000 jobs,
to a total of 636,000. That continues the slow recovery
from the deep drops in employment triggered by the 1990s
defense cutbacks and the plunge in U.S. airliner sales
after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Employment in the industry is only two-thirds of what
it was at the beginning of the 1990s. Douglass noted the
recent growth in employment was in “high-paying production
jobs,” while administration and support positions dropped,
improving the industry's efficiency and international
Despite the jump in sales, the industry's profits
increased modestly, from $12.6 billion to $13.3 billion,
which Douglass said was partly because of working on
Although U.S. airlines are beginning to order new
aircraft, orders from foreign airlines and air cargo
carriers were the main drivers of the expanded commercial
sales. Those orders, plus increased foreign sales of
military airplanes, helicopters and missiles, drove
international sales to a record $81.8 billion, Douglass
Those foreign sales, offset by only a slight increase
in imports to $29.6 billion, produced a record-high trade
surplus in aerospace products of $52.2 billion. Aerospace
is one of the few U.S. industries with a trade surplus.