The industry's point of view

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  • SESSION II

    THE INDUSTRY'S POINT OF VIEWby PETER G. MASEFIELD,

    M.A., F.R.Ae.S., M.lnst.T., Hon.F.I.Ae.S., C.I.Mech.E.

    Managing Director, Bristol Aircraft Ltd.

    President, Royal Aeronautical Society.

    THIS afternoon we have heard a most interestingtalk by Lord Douglas. Many of us would like tohave a go at him in discussion, which may bepossible tomorrow. Lord Douglas has pointed out thatthere is "nothing that he could not do if he had a fewmillion pounds to spend ", and we shall all echo thatfor our own sides of the business. He has referredto the problems which we face in this industry andsaid that they are highly complex and that thesolution is not easy to distinguish. As I listened tohim I recalled the words of Lewis Carroll :-

    " ' Tis a pitiful tale ', said the Chairman, whose faceHad grown longer at every word,' But now that he's stated the whole of his caseMore debate would be simply absurd '."

    But whether absurd or not, my task is to attemptto present an industry view, and I take my themenot only from the theme of this Conference, but alsofrom what Lord Douglas has said, that " the pastsuccesses of the United Kingdom in aircraft develop-ment have undoubtedly made an important contri-bution to our position as a world power ". I thinkthat the issue in front of us is this: " Can wemanage to maintain that position in aeronautics inthe decades ahead?" It is just about as simple asthat.

    The difficulty is to determine the way we should

    You remember the Collect which enjoins us topray that we may :-

    " both perceive and know what things we oughtto do, and also may have grace and powerfaithfully to fulfil the same."

    That is, 1 think, not a bad guide on how to focusour thoughts today. I should like to outline someideas against that background.

    In all we are doing today whether in the fieldof military aeronautics, or in civil aviation wehave to remember that we are working in a highlycompetitive international business. It is no goodignoring commercially what is going on in othercountries as apparently, if I may be critical, theGovernment's " Supersonic Transport Aircraft Com-mittee " has done. I shall have something to sayabout that later.

    One of the most difficult aspects we face inBritish aviation today is the tremendous pressures onthe speeding up of the rate of technical development,which are coming from both the United States andfrom Russia.

    It rather reminds me of Lewis Carroll's " MockTurtle's Song" which, you will remember, he sang" very slowly and sadly " :-" Will you walk a little faster?" said a (U.S.) whiting

    to a (U.K.) snail." There's a (Russian) porpoise close behind us, and

    he's treading on my tail."See how eagerly the (East German) lobsters and the

    (Chinese) turtles all advance!" They are waiting on the shingle will you come

    and join the dance ?" Will you, won't you, will you, won't you will

    you join the dance ? "Today, " Will we, won't we, will we join the

    dance ? ", whether supersonic or any other, is thegreat problem

    305

  • EMPLOYMENTin the

    BRITISH AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY1935-1959

    MILLIONS MILLIONS

    O-5 0-5

    1935 194O 1945 195O 1955 196O

    Fig. 1.

    Now, I am not going to read out my writtenPaper, on the theme of this Conference. A writtenPaper is to read. A " spoken lecture " is a differentthing.

    So, first of all - when we look towards the future- let us try to be clear about our objectives in a

    world which is, at once, internationally competitive,politically confused about aviation at least and, certainly, financially hazardous.

    objectives of the aircraft industryI believe that the broad objectives of our business

    in the aircraft industry can be set out thus :-They are

    to produce, and to sell at a profit competitivetypes of aircraft with their spares and theirequipment.

    Now these aircraft and their ancillaries mustbe:-

    designed to meet and to develop growing demandsin both the home and world markets.

    If we can achieve that much, then we shall create :-First Stable Employment in both the design

    field and in our production shops.Second A Steady Contribution to the national

    income (through the prosperity of our industry)and we must not forget here that more thanl^ million men, women and children in this countrydepend for their livelihood on the aircraft industry and then :-

    Thirdly in the military field, a foundation fornational security.

    I might have added that in the civil sphere the contributions of our industry can help, materially,the success of our airlines, as well as provide a shop

    window for British goods, British skills and Britishtechniques.

    So much for our objectives.If we can attain them, there can be no doubt

    that the theme of this Conference is right and thatour industry is an important national assetwhich, I think, has served this country well in thepast and can do even more in the future.As Lord Douglas has pointed out, we in theaircraft industry employ design and manufacturingskills which are of a high technological order,and we must try to preserve them if we are tocontinue to count as a world power.

    We have, however, to face the fact that the bigissue in front of us is whether we like it or not whether the aircraft industry in the United Kingdomcan remain much longer in the " big league" ofmilitary and civil aeronautics, in a world inwhich research and development, in conjunctionwith design and production techniques, arebeing pressed forward to an extraordinary degree,under the influence of enormous defence expendituresin both the U.S.A. and in the U.S.S.R.

    Looking ahead, I propose to divide my remarksunder five headings: first, what we'in this industryhave achieved since the War; secondly, where dowe stand today; thirdly, a word about supersonictransport aircraft, under which so much of our futureproblems can be summed up; fourthly, a word abouthow much it all costs; and lastly, a suggestion aboutthe policy which we may require in the future.

    First, what have we achieved ? I think the employ-ment situation shows the background here.

    employment in the British aircraft industry1935 - 59

    From Fig. 1 it will be seen that fluctuations inemployment in our industry are nothing new. Con-ditions in war-time, of course, are very different fromanything that can happen in time of peace. Whathappened during the War could not happen inpeace-time.

    EMPLOYMENT/N THE

    BRITISH AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY1946-1959

    200,000200,000

    100,000*

    \

    \

    1

    KOFw

    JIE AtAD

    /

    si

    /

    I A

    isLi?

    ITEPER>57

    100,000

    1946 195O 1955 1959

    Fig. 2.

    306

  • After a peak of nearly 1.8 million direct employeesin 1943, the total numbers today stand at 244,000men and women in direct employment. A down-ward trend began in 1957 and we must expect it toaccelerate.

    employment in the British aircraft industry1946 - 59

    Fig. 2 illustrates the past 13 years :-First - the downward trend after the War ;Then the build-up during, and after, the

    Korean War;Now the results of the White Paper on Defence

    of April, 1957, and the increasing competitionin air transport.

    The figure shown for the present strength of theindustry is 244,000 directly employed which is8% less than the 265,000 in January, 1957. We canadd about 86,000 to this figure for the ancillarytrades including the repair business making thepresent total some 330,000 (which is, I think, whatLord Douglas quoted). I believe that, as things aregoing today, the numbers of persons directly employedin the design and production of British aircraft, twoyears from now, may be some 100,000 less than today that is about a 40% reduction.

    It is a very serious state of affairs. We have totry to alter it.

    I have not differentiated here between the engineside and the airframe side, and perhaps I ought todo so. The problems are not quite the samein each because the engine side can sell to foreignairframe builders. But that is the broad picture andwe have to expect a reduction.

    What have we achieved since the War?One of the troubles about positive statements is

    that no precise, official figures are published forthis industry, as is done regularly for the UnitedStates industry.

    1 would like to say to both the S.B.A.C. and theMinistry of Supply representatives present that Ithink this is a very short-sighted and unnecessarilyrestrictive policy. It leads to less than justice beingdone to a major British industry. The statistics for allthe other major industries in this country are verydetailed and complete, but this is not so for the air-craft industry.

    Some estimates are possible however.

    British aircraft industry estimated productionsince 1946

    About 25,000 aircraft of 115 different types havebeen turned out in the United Kingdom since1946. That means an average production runof about 220 aircraft for each type. In fact, such anaverage is very misleading. There have been a fewbig orders. The rest have been small.

    It is interesting that the dozen types of whichmost have been made since the War have been :-

    1. Gloster Meteors, more than 3,000.2. de Havilland Vampires, more than 2,000.3. Hawker Hunters, more than 1,500.

    4. de Havilland Venoms, inore than 1,000.5. English Electric Canberras, about 1,000.

    Then :-6. Fairey Fireflies, nearly 1,000.7. de Havilland Mosquitoes, more than 800.8. Hawker Furies, more than 800.9. de Havilland Chipmunks, more than 700.

    10. Avro Ansons, more than 600.11. Avro Lincolns, more than 500.12. Military Austers, nearly 500.So the first 12 types in "production numbers are

    all military. The 14,179 aircraft covered by this listaccount for some 56% of the total output since theWar. And they all come from five companies orgroups Hawker-Siddeley, de Havilland, EnglishElectric, Fairey and Auster.

    Indeed, 85%O of the value of the aircraft producedsince the War have been military. The total outlayhas been some 3,500,000,000, including engines.The average cost works out at about 108,000 peraircraft. Another way of looking at it would be thateach basic type set in hand has represented, withinstalled engines, an outlay of about 23,000,000 ondesign, development and production.

    If we compare 1958 results with those of 1946 in both years almost the same total numbers wereemployed we see quite a change in the business.

    British aircraft production 1946and 1958 (Fig. 3)

    In 1946 the turnover amounted to some90,000,000 for 2,700 aircraft, whereas in 1958 theturnover amounted to about 400,000,000 somethree-and-a-half times more including inflation, (orabout twice as much excluding inflation) for some800 aircraft plus guided missiles.

    NUMBER OFAIRCRAFT

    2.5OO

    2.OOO

    1.5OO

    1.OOO

    5OO

    .1946-

    90

    2per Ibstructureweigh t

    produced(Civil)

    BRITISHAIRCRAFT

    PRODUCTION1946 and 195%

    4OOMILLIONS

    lZ5 Per Ibstructureweight

    produced(Civ, I)

    NUMBER OFAIRCRAFT

    2.5OO

    2.OOO

    1.5OO

    1.OOO

    5OO

    Fig. 3.

    307

  • LABOUR BREAKDOWN in theBRITISH AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY

    1959SKILLED-,

    80,000

    60.000

    40,000

    20.000

    TOTAL 244,600(FEB. 1959)

    TRADESMEN

    80,000

    60.000

    40.000

    20.000

    Fig. 4.

    In 1946 about 87% of the output value weremilitary, whereas in 1958 only about 66% weremilitary.

    Now, the figures quoted in the preprinted Paperare incorrect on these specific points. If anyone iswriting them down these are the correct figures 2,700 aircraft in 1946; 800 aircraft in 1958, plusmissiles. But the value in 1958 is three-and-a-halftimes more.

    An interesting point, partly caused by inflationand partly by the increased complexity of aircrafttypes, is that whereas each pound weight of civilaircraft structure and equipment cost roughly 2 in1946, the cost in 1958 was about 12.5.

    The fact is that the complexity of aircraft designand fabrication has increased many times over inrecent years. From an export point,of view, the factthat each pound of structure weight now sells foran average of more than 12 sterling means tha.a high return is and has to be gained becauseof the skills required in the job. As Lord Douglas hassaid :-

    " Materials expensive as they are (and growingmore so) indeed account for only some 15%of the cost of manufacture."

    That is another very significant point, because itmeans that most of our expenditure is on skilledlabour.

    In fact, the total labour strength of the aircraftindustry today is made up of some 51% of skilledtradesmen and" technicians.

    labour breakdown in the British aircraft industry1959

    As you see in Fig. 4, out of a total of 244,000 ofpeople employed, some 90,000 (36.8%) are skilled

    tradesmen on the production floor and some 35,000(14.3%) are designers, draughtsmen and technicians.Semi and unskilled labour accounts for a little over50,000 and there are some 69,000 administrators,accountants, salesmen and other overheads in-cluding those present this afternoon. We are perhapsrather too numerous.

    The real difficulty, during the next few years, isgoing to be to maintain employment for the 90,000skilled tradesmen.

    Let us remember, too, that it is no good designingunless you produce, and sell, as well. Those teamshave to be kept employed, and in balance.

    That takes us to the export position. Lord Douglashas spoken of the achievement of the British aircraftindustry in earning some 800,000,000 worth offoreign exchange since the War and achieving exportsworth 160,000,000 in 1958.

    U.K. exports, aircraft and spares 1958In Fig. 5, this total has been made up of some

    80,000,000 worth of military products and80,000,000 worth of civil products in 1958. Of thislatter figure, 40,000,000 worth represents Viscountsales and 12,000,000 worth Britannias. Comets arenow coming into the picture again in 1959.

    British aeronautical exports have, indeed, doneespecially well in dollar areas thanks largely to theViscount.

    aeronautical exportsDuring the past year the chief countries to which

    aeronautical exports have been made are :-1. India, 18,000,000 for aircraft and parts.2. Canada, 14,000,000.3. U.S.A., 13,000,000.4. West Germany, 10,000,000.5. South Africa, 3,200,000.6. Australia, 3,000,000.Indeed, when we look at United Kingdom exports

    to the United States we see that aeronautical pro-ducts are high in fact, fourth on the list.

    2OO M

    1OO M

    U.K.EXPORTS

    AIRCRAFTand SPARES

    1958

    2OOM

    1OOM

    Fig. 5.

    308

  • U.K. exports to the U.S.A.In regard to exports to America, motor vehicles

    come first, with exports of 63,000,000 to the UnitedStates, and whisky second, with 32,000,000. TheAmericans have not managed to get a grip on thistrade, as those who have drunk bourbon will realise.Machinery comes third, with 25,000,000, andaeronautical products fourth, with 19,000,000. Fifthcomes manufactured metal goods with 16,000,000and sixth woollen goods with 9,000,000. Again,the problem is whether or not we can maintain thisposition in the future.

    Now can we maintain this position on exports ?We have to face the fact that the value of military

    export sales, on which we have relied so much, isbound to decline with the gradual fading out of themanned military aircraft although the sale of theBristol Bloodhound Surface-to-Air Guided Weaponto Sweden is the first success in a wholly new field.Even so, the fact that manned military aircraft areon the decline, means that export sales...

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