The Market Intelligence Aerospace Professionals Need to Know Now

If you’re an aerospace marketing pro putting together your company’s strategy and plan for 2017 it’s essential that you deeply understand the market. 
  • What segments are growing?

  • What geographic regions have the most potential?

  • Where are your very best opportunities for success? 

It’s a big job.

A quick Google search of “Aerospace Industry Outlook 2017” provides some interesting resources, including this McKinsey & Company survey report, an FAA Aerospace Forecast for 2016-2036  and an Industry Week piece with insights and predictions for us moving forward.

But it doesn’t stop there. The OEMs publish their own outlooks. Airbus, Boeing, Honeywell, and many more— they each have their own take and their own spin.

Then there are the paid reports. Lucintel has about 40 options for niche reports on everything from landing gear to military shelters. 

The Frost & Sullivan website offers everything from a “Global Defense Vision” for $4,950, to “Military Training and Simulation Trends” for $1,500.

It’s a lot. We know.

And in our experience, there is no silver bullet. The right approach includes a combination of careful web research (watch your sources), paid reports, industry experience, and staying connected with colleagues and journalists, all mixed together with a little gut feel. 

Even more important is the ability to think both conceptually and strategically.

This means having the ability to see the big picture, to identify trends, make connections and draw conclusions though intelligent and informed interpretation.

And that’s exactly what we do every day. We’re kicking off the 2017 Flight Manual with a high-level look at the Aerospace market that is informed by lots of research and 30 years of industry experience.

Market Opportunities, Highlights and Insights

The aerospace and defense market is cyclical and, to some extent, unpredictable. It is influenced by everything from the value of the U.S. dollar, to political leadership, to the price of oil. What’s more, it’s competitive, with a lot of large and small companies going after the same, often shrinking, budgets. The Aerospace Industries Association reports that there are more than 30,000 aerospace and defense suppliers in the United States alone and there are an additional 700 companies in Canada. That’s a lot of competition, just in North America.

Commercial Markets

  • General aviation is flat or generally in decline. If this is your sole focus, you may want to augment growth in other ways, with new products or with expanded markets for what you currently sell.
  • Rotorcraft is experiencing an unprecedented downturn. As a result, aftermarket upgrades and repairs will increase in importance, as will anything related to affordability.
  • Business aviation is generally flat. The best opportunities will be related to large business jets.
  • Commercial and regional airlines are growing and profiting.
  • Avionics is experiencing steady market growth but is fiercely competitive. Expect higher value opportunities and increased shift toward satellite technologies.
  • Global opportunity abounds for engine manufacturers, MRO and related businesses.

What to Watch: Honeywell predicts commercial market opportunities in the areas of flight efficiency upgrades, expanded propulsion offerings, innovative safety products, services, upgrades and enhanced aircraft connectivity offerings, so these are all areas worthy of closer focus.


Military Markets

  • The total defense sector is expected to trend positively, but there are lots of unknowns under incoming President Donald Trump. Initial expectations were that a Trump administration would be a boon for defense, and that may be true. Yet we’ve also seen strong criticism of both the F-35 and Air Force One.
  • Foreign military sales are on the rise. If you’re looking for growth, look internationally.
  • New military aircraft will be fielded and will require support. Aircraft recently in service or the horizon include F-35, KC-46, CH-53K.
  • Cybersecurity has huge growth potential of 22% annually. Get smart and learn all you can now.
  • The military UAV market is growing rapidly, forecast at 12% annually through 2018. This is not a surprise, but don’t overlook this growth area.

What to Watch: Pay attention to the UAV and Cybersecurity markets. Do you have products or technologies that could be adapted to support these segments? If so, these are worth a closer look. The environment is also favorable for companies that support and provide life extension programs for legacy aircraft and defense businesses seeking to sell more internationally. And, keep a close eye on what’s happening in Washington, D.C.


Geographically, there has been a rapid shift away from Brazil and Russia to the Middle East, India and Asia. While there is value in targeted growth areas, it’s also important that you do not put all your eggs in one basket. The same could be said about commercial versus military focus. Ideally you have products and services for both markets.

The bottom line? Diversify to account for rapid market shifts; Learn about and explore emerging high growth markets; Remain informed and involved as you watch for market trends and, as always in our industry, expect the unexpected.

As a final note, I’d like to thank you for your support of the Flight Manual, and the nice notes, feedback and encouragement you provide. Good content takes time, and knowing that you value our efforts really does make it all worthwhile. Here’s to a great 2017, everyone. Happy New Year!