The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAIA) has completed an extensive survey of its members and the wider aerospace industry to assess morale and expectations for the sector going forward. Its full report entitled “2021 AIAA State of the Industry: The Health and Future Outlook of the Aerospace Industry” is due to be released in the week beginning September 27, but the group has released some initial findings suggesting a somewhat mixed response from those surveyed.
More than 80 percent of respondents to the survey said they are, “very positive about the future of the aerospace industry.” However, for the narrower aviation sector, the percentage expressing positive sentiments slipped to 75 percent.
Cybersecurity was identified as the top challenge facing the aerospace and defense industries. Those surveyed also pointed to advances in manufacturing techniques and artificial intelligence and machine learning as the most significant opportunities for the industry to improve its performance. Perhaps surprisingly, environmental sustainability was not flagged up in the AIAA's topline findings from the survey.
The AIAA’s executive summary of the report covers the importance of encouraging newcomers to the industry, with current industry professionals indicating that they would recommend aerospace as a solid career choice to young people. The need to be more effective in demonstrating a meaningful commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion was also highlighted as a necessity for the industry, with the report concluding that “workers are not sure that employers are making the most meaningful changes.”
Many of those asked for their assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the industry indicated that ongoing change could come beyond the anticipated recovery. Nearly 30 percent of the professionals surveyed said they anticipate and are already seeing changes in travel patterns that could be “transformational to their business operations.”
AIAA commissioned Edge Research to survey around 1,000 people with respondents drawn from the U.S. and 37 other countries. “The findings in the 2021 AIAA State of the Industry Report affirm our key issues and provide new insights that will help us address our community’s immediate needs and priorities as we shape the future of aerospace,” said AIAA executive director Dan Dumbacher. “We will use this data to help make progress at the pace required to accelerate innovation in our three domains–aeronautics, aerospace research and development, and space.”