Aircraft Engineering TH E MONTHLY ORGAN OF THE AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSION VOL XXXI No 363 MAY 1959 Our principal advantage over the U.S.A. lies in our lower labour costs, which means we can break even on smaller production runs. N previous years we have summarized at some length the pro This is just as well as it is rare indeed for a British civil airliner to be ceedings of the Institution of Production Engineers'conference on sold in larger numbers than its American counterpart. It is a sobering I Problems of Aircraft Production. This year the conference was fact revealed by MR MASEFIELD that the average cost per pound rather different in that it was concerned with the place of the aircraft empty weight is in fact slightly higher over here than in America. industry in the national economy, and there was no discussion of These considerations make it clear that the aircraft industry cannot detailed engineering problems. We are therefore confining our re rely on making a profit on a normal commercial trading basis, at any marks about the conference to this page. rate not with sufficient certainty to attract finance from normal in The three papers were given respectively by LORD DOUGLAS OF vestment channels. It remains for the Government to provide the KIRTLESIDE, on The Operators Point of View, M R P. G. MASEFIELD, finance to enable the industry to continue. It was the purpose of the on The Industry's Point of View, and MR S. P. WOODLEY on The conference to show that the industry was worth preserving, and this Impact on Other Industries. MR WOODLEY'S paper was largely con was in fact ably done by all speakers. There were many reasons ad cerned with what work outside the aircraft field can best be done by vanced, but some of the most important were the unique position of aircraft firms in their search for 'diversification', and we do not aircraft as exports owing to their very high content of our greatest propose to discuss this aspect here. national asset—highly skilled tradesmen and design teams ; the need The other two papers showed a remarkable unity of view about to keep these men occupied on worthwhile tasks ; the necessity for the present position of the industry,and indeed it became clear during maintaining the industry as a going concern as an insurance against the discussion that leaders in the industry arc more united in their a change of defence policy; the special training facilities offered by assessment of the position than for many years. It is clear that the the industry; and the driving force provided for the development of British aircraft industry now has to take decisions which will pro new materials and processes. foundly influence developments for many years to come, and have a not inconsiderable effect on the national economy. Recent successes by It was agreed then that the industry must continue to produce British civil aircraft have perhaps obscured the fact that military aeroplanes, and that Government assistance in some form would be production has for long been the mainstay of the industry. Military necessary. The question remaining was what types of aircraft should aircraft production, although more types are now under develop be concentrated on, for it was clear that we could not do everything. ment than was expected to be the case some months ago, is no Here the recent discussions about a supersonic civil transport were longer at all likely to be the greater share of aircraft work. Aircraft raised. There was a strong feeling that such a project could never firms can only to a very limited extent look to guided weapons as an hope to be economic, particularly as it would probably involve head- alternative outlet, as the bulk of the work in the more advanced on competition with America. On the other hand it was clear that vehicles is in the electronic and control gear. This leaves us with civil many people wanted the aircraft industry to keep to the forefront of aircraft as the main employment, a fact which has been clear for research and development in the interests of national prestige, and some months if not years. However both LORD DOUGLAS and M R of consequent favourable publicity for the sale of our goods of all MASEFIELD made it clear that it is by no means easy to make a profit kinds abroad. There arc a number of gaps in the civil aircraft market out of the manufacture of civil air transports. The price is largely for which it would be worth developing aircraft, particularly in the, fixed by market considerations, and a considerable number of air field of medium-sized transports and aircraft offering very low oper craft have to be sold before the very heavy development and tooling ating costs. These types do not however catch the public imagination costs can be regained. The figures of 100 aircraft to break even and to such a high degree as projects nearer to the frontiers of knowledge. 200 to make a reasonable profit were suggested by M R MASEFIELD., Unfortunately the latter involve by far the greater sums of money. Unfortunately the pattern of progress in transport aircraft is towards We believe with the speakers that first priority should be given to larger and faster machines—which on both counts have much in the encouragement of specific aircraft of what has come to be called creased work capacity, so cutting down the numbers needed by the the bread-and-butter type. It is also highly desirable that larger sums airlines. should be made available for research and development on more In this market we are competing principally with the United advanced types of aircraft, or indeed for more purely scientific pro States. Russian competition is not likely to be important so long as jects such as space flight. It is surely mistaken, however, to expect work of this kind to produce a direct financial return and it should be information required for airworthiness certification and airline undertaken for its own sake. In this context, as indicated on this evaluation is not readily available. Military orders in the U.S.A. arc page in the April issue, we consider that duplication of undoubted still substantial enough for companies to be able to carry their civil work on the back of military developments, the more so as in many American work on a supersonic transport is the least worthwhile of cases civil and military types stem from basically the same design such ventures. If however it proves possible for us to collaborate with the Americans in this type of work, that would be much more concepts. Even the American firms most renowned for their civil satisfactory. airliners still do more military than civil work.
Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 1959
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