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Gene Morrison


Aerospace Faces Challenges as Market Rapidly Expands

Find out how it affects you in the upcoming webinar on Nov. 16, 2017

Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 12:02

Never-before-seen growth has turned the aviation, space, and defense industries into lucrative markets. Demand for increased efficiency, security, quality, and durability has taken off in recent years, resulting in high margins and operating profits. With exponential growth potential and a long-term forecast for success, aerospace is poised to be the next gigantic market opportunity for manufacturers and service providers. Although consistently rising demand is good for business, it also manifests some challenges for aerospace manufacturers.

The challenges

First, there are just too many parts for an aviation company to produce themselves. The average aircraft possesses 1.2 million to 3 million components, while wide body aircraft require even more parts. Simultaneously, stringent aerospace requirements are calling for faster, more efficient aircraft with smaller bodies. As a result, aerospace companies must account for every one of these parts, ensuring that they meet the strict delivery and manufacturing requirements set in place. Despite the overwhelming production backlog, the demand for aircraft is perpetually rising. In response, aviation, space, and defense companies are seeking to identify high-quality suppliers to build global partnerships for the next century. Vast numbers of qualified original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and first tier suppliers exist; however, these suppliers often operate within different industries and are not certified to produce and sell aerospace parts. Whether they realize it or not, many of these companies are standing at the threshold of the aviation, space, and defense industry.

Second, limitations in production pose a huge challenge for aerospace companies in that many OEMs across industries are only certified to ISO 9001. Although ISO 9001 is a strong indicator of quality excellence, it is not advanced enough to match aerospace guidelines. The good news is that ISO 9001 is the foundation for AS9100. OEMs and other suppliers already certified to the ISO 9001 quality management system are a few upgrades away from meeting the minimum requirements for doing business as aerospace suppliers.

This may prompt the question, “If it’s so easy, why isn’t every company certified to AS9100?” It seems simple enough to make the necessary upgrades from ISO 9001, and it can be. The difficulty for nonindustry OEMs lies in properly positioning themselves for what comes after the upgrade. Entering an unfamiliar market without a broad understanding of the industry is risky for businesses who want to make the transition. At the same time, the ROI and profit margin potential is too great to ignore. Most manufacturers already have the machines, materials, and means to adjust their assembly lines, but they require a knowledgeable network that can map the landscape of the industry and enable success.

Aviation, space, and defense companies don’t only want external suppliers; they need them. From parts and services to electronic components, protective materials, and onboard equipment, there is no shortage of ways to enter this industry. Defense organizations are intensifying their efforts to eliminate security threats. Space exploration projects are no longer exclusive to the government. Private space companies with immense capital are emerging and competing with NASA. Change in the industry has caused the aerospace requirements to be more cohesive with ISO 9001 to make the transition easier for potential suppliers.

Despite the increased inclusivity, potential suppliers are challenged with tailoring their strategy and product properly to succeed. To do this successfully, they require an experienced partner that can help them navigate the market while offering a robust network of existing aerospace OEMs and suppliers.

The solution

Quality assurance providers like Intertek are working around the globe to remove these obstacles for clients. We strive to provide businesses with an opportunity to bolster their service offering and global network by identifying a profitable, detailed path into the aerospace industry. At the same time, we help aerospace companies remain on target to meet their growing demands. 

Not only does Intertek possess an elite level of expertise required to succeed in the aviation, space, and defense industry, we offer a suite of services and tools needed for a business to establish themselves within the complex industry. An extensive global network spanning 100 countries allows for relationship building, knowledge sharing, and performance benchmarking whenever and wherever it is needed. Realizing that not all aerospace supplier candidates require the same level of assistance, Intertek offers varying levels of services customized to adjust to an individual organization’s needs. Training courses, webinars, auditing, certification, and network referrals are a few of the offerings that can clear the path for a successful transition to becoming an aerospace supplier.

Trillions of dollars in aircraft backlog has generated opportunities that were not necessarily as accessible to external OEMs and suppliers. Heavy reliance on safety, ingenuity, and efficiency has generated a push for continual improvement within these industries, which has opened a floodgate of demand from individuals, private companies, and government organizations. The outlook within the aerospace industry is optimistic; however, it is often overlooked. Almost any manufacturer in any industry can take advantage of this opportunity. For example, textile companies are utilizing their machines to weave special materials for aircraft wings. Of course, as previously stated, the needs of aerospace companies are highly varied and specialized. With the proper guidance, your business could be the next to reap the immense untapped benefit of being a supplier for this high-growth sector.

Want to learn more? Check out our complimentary webinar, “Elevating into the Aviation, Space, and Defense Industry,” to highlight specific modes of entry into the respective industries. You can find out how your business can become a reliable supplier in an industry that requires a high level of quality and precision. In addition to sustained profits and an expansive global network, entering these industries can provide a reputational boost that is reinforced by a fortified quality management system.

As the demand continues to grow, aerospace companies will adapt. Competitors will begin to flock to the market in search of a piece of the profits. Acting on this opportunity before the competition can will give you the advantage of tapping into this global network and reaching your business goals.

For more on this topic, again, please join me and Quality Digest editor in chief Dirk Dusharme on Nov. 16, 2017, at 11 a.m. Pacific and 2 p.m. Eastern for the webinar, “Elevating into the Aviation, Space, and Defense Industry.” Register here.


About The Author

Gene Morrison’s picture

Gene Morrison

Gene Morrison, program manager and lead auditor at Intertek Business Assurance, is responsible for managing, training, and qualifying auditors for AS9100, the quality management system standard for global aviation, space, and defense organizations. Morrison represents Intertek at industry meetings including Americas Aerospace Quality Group, International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), and the Independent International Organization for Certification (IIOC). Prior to joining Intertek, Morrison served as vice president of strategic accounts and global operations for a certification body for 18 years. He has also worked as a quality director in the aviation and space industries as well as conventional and nuclear weapons sectors.



Aerospace Challenges

Then add the dearth of skilled workers to replace the rapidly retiring baby boomers and the governments gigantic backlog in approval of security clearnces and it is not a pretty picture.