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02 November 2015

Dorset Celebrates its Role in Global Aerospace


Many of the most influential and innovative Dorset companies gathered at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth last month to celebrate their successes, and share ideas for facing future challenges.

The event, hosted by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, Invest in Dorset and the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) was organised to showcase the South West’s aerospace sector and attract new investment into the region.

Dorset is home to major players on the world aerospace stage, including Cobham, AIM Altitude, Magellan Aerospace, Honeywell, AmSafe, Meggitt and Harmon, all of whom are benefitting from the significant growth in global air travel. Air travel is measured in Route Passenger Kilometres (RPKs), and this is forecast to double every 15 years until the middle of the century. 

The Dorset Aerospace meeting provided an opportunity for some of the smaller, but equally important, Dorset technology companies within the aerospace supply chain to hear a positive message from Cobham, Meggitt and Aish Technologies, about their experiences in riding the crest of this surge in demand.


Demand, of course, brings its own challenges, and every speaker emphasised that whilst we had cause to be jubilant, there was no room for complacency. The aerospace sector, whether commercial or defence oriented, will continuously expect future aircraft to be quicker, safer, quieter, cleaner, more efficient, more reliable, cheaper, easier to build, more comfortable.

The technology challenges, and an ethos of continuous improvement, need to be embraced by all companies, and adopted by their personnel, if they intend to remain key elements of the global market against regions of the world who making their own mark through investment, quality improvement and technological advance.

Aerospace sector expert, Barry Warburton, posed the question “South West Aerospace: A global player or not?” After some vibrant discussion, the unanimous conclusion was that all of the companies felt that they were making a significant contribution to the global aerospace market, and intended to continue to do so.

Dorset LEP Chairman, Gordon Page, outlined the investments which were being made in the county, and he emphasised the high esteem in which the Dorset aerospace companies were held, as they brought growth, employment opportunities and technological advance to the county.

WEAF Chief executive, Simon Young, drew attention to the way in which companies could be supported locally through WEAF and the LEP, but represented nationally and internationally. Many opportunities would emerge in time through financial investment, adopting best-practice and taking a technological lead, fully endorsed by the UK government through the Aerospace Growth Partnership. 

The Dorset Aerospace event met its objective of reinforcing a need for cooperation and collaboration. No company can thrive completely on its own, so by uniting within WEAF, and by taking advantage of the iAero innovation hub which encourages enhanced skills, shared resources and collaborative ideas, the county will continue to lead and grow in niche high-technology areas.

Background to WEAF

WEAF is the largest Aerospace Association in the UK, with both National and International member companies. It is a non-profit trade association that champions and supports the interests of the aerospace and defence industry in the South West of England. It leads the sector in delivering national initiatives and connecting the regional industry network. WEAF helps to facilitate the future competitiveness and growth of the aerospace industry in the South West. It supports Sales and Business Development through numerous networking, “meet-the-buyer” and Best Practice events throughout the year, including Senior Management Briefings from Airbus, Agusta Westland, Rolls Royce and Cobham. WEAF supports innovation and develops the supply chain through training and visits to member factories.


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