A Key Driver of Growth and International Competitiveness?
Chapter 1: Introduction: an important industry?
Aerospace is often claimed to be an important industry. Is it important and, if so, why is it important? This chapter addresses these questions. It considers whether there is an economic case for government support for the industry or whether some of the arguments are spurious and examples of special pleading. The task of the economist is to identify myths and special pleading and subject them to rigorous and critical economic analysis and assess the supporting evidence. The chapter presents a preliminary review of these arguments, many of which are addressed in more detail elsewhere in the book. A starting point requires a definition of the industry. Government official statistics provide definitions of the industry. For example, the official European statistics (Eurostat) defines the industry as the manufacture of air and spacecraft and related machinery. This classification includes the manufacture of aeroplanes for the transport of goods or passengers for use by defence forces, for sport or for other purposes; the manufacture of helicopters, gliders and dirigibles. It also includes the manufacture of parts and accessories for the aircraft of this class, including engines and their parts, major assemblies (e.g. fuselages; wings; doors; landing gear; fuel tanks), propellers and helicopter rotor blades as well as aircraft seats. Further sectors included are the manufacture of ground flying trainers, spacecraft, launch vehicles, satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) as well as the overhaul and conversion of aircraft or aircraft engines.