06 Sep 07. Allan Cook, SBAC President, speech at Annual Dinner – 6 September 2007.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the SBAC’s Annual Dinner.
This is my first opportunity, since becoming the SBAC’s President – this afternoon actually – to say a few words and to share with you my thoughts on some of the key developments in our industry.
I am very pleased that Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support at the MoD is here with us this evening as our Guest of Honour.
Paul, you are most welcome and we look forward to what you have to say to us after dinner. Given that it’s the President’s prerogative to speak before we eat – I thought I would get the SBAC’s message to Government in first!
When I was first approached about becoming the SBAC President, I confess I hesitated – on the one hand, as Chief Executive of Cobham – a company with a proud heritage in Aerospace which has seen revenues double in the past 5 years – we are entering a defining period in our business and my day job is NOT without it’s challenges and opportunities!
On the other hand, it is a great honour to represent this industry and to play a part in the development of our industry, which is also, in my opinion, going through a defining period.
And why do I say that?
Well, in many ways we are stronger, we are more sophisticated, enjoying the benefits of new technology and new generations of aircraft and making a vital contribution to the British economy, more than £22bn annually – but the challenges and the threats remain significant…
– Competition in our business grows every year…
– Maintaining a leadership position in technology becomes ever harder…
– Finding the skills and people necessary for a vibrant future – ever more difficult…
– And now arguably one of the biggest challenges in our history – how do we, collectively, the industry, respond to the environmental issues posed by climate change and an effective green lobby that has us firmly in their sights.
So for me, this defining period is all about our ability to develop a sustainable aerospace industry in the UK
– sustainable economically and
– sustainable environmentally.
I am convinced that this needs to be our number one priority and it is for this reason that I have accepted the SBAC Presidency enthusiastically – so that I can help play my part in shaping this period for our industry.
Let me try to explain what I mean by a sustainable aerospace industry and why it is so important.
Like many of you, I spend a large part of my life travelling around the world on business – probably more than I – or my wife – would like!
Like you, I often get to see at first hand the aerospace industry in many parts of the world. As I do so, there is no doubt that these are exciting times.
Orders for the production of aircraft and engines are at record levels.
Three new aircraft are produced every day and there are orders in the pipeline for more than 5,000 large aircraft and 10,000 engines.
In defence, major projects – such as the F-35 JSF, Eurofighter Typhoon, Strategic Tanker, A400M and the support necessary for the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan – create significant opportunities for our industry.
The UK’s defence links and relationship with the United States, the world’s largest aerospace market, remain vital. The excellent work on the proposed UK/US defence trade co-operation treaty is a demonstration of this relationship in action.
Tonight, I am delighted to welcome John Douglass – President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, the AIA, the SBAC’s counterpart in the US – to join us as our guest.
John, I am very pleased you are able to spend time with us.
Equally, the Defence Industrial Strategy, which Lord Drayson personally designed and sponsored, and which will be updated in December, shows just how important collaborative working between the industry and the M