Just how big is global aerospace?

Ready? Global aerospace is worth $838 billion. Exactly half of the global automotive industry. Yes, half. Think of all the trucks, cars, motorbikes that are made, sold, manufactured, repaired and re-sold globally. And yet the aerospace industry is worth half of that. Makes one think of the growing size and revenue from aerospace, doesn’t it?

How does that number break down? Aircraft manufacturing makes up 54 percent of the total. Satellites and space (7 percent) and missiles and UAVs (5 percent) make up a much smaller portions. One of the major surprises is that maintenance & repair operations (MRO) are worth $225 billion, or 27 percent of global aerospace activity.

OK, but which countries boast the largest aerospace industries? The U.S. tops the list at $408 billion, 49 perent of global aerospace, including $13 billion of aerospace exports. And, what’s more, U.S. global leadership seems secure baring any trade war debacle like soaring costs of aluminum. Or threatening NATO (which France just announced means that the EU should build its own aerospace fighters and planes — not relying on “traditional partners in the United States”).

A surprise is that France comes in second ($69 billion diverse capability in the jetliner, fighter, business aircraft, rotorcraft, space and missiles segments. The United Kingdom (6 percent) and Germany (5 percent) are in the top five. The final country in the top five, China, may be a surprise to many. At an estimated $61 billion, it now boasts the world’s third largest industry. China has always wanted to be a world aerospace power. Their recent five-year plans have placed heavy emphasis on building up their aerospace ecosystem on par with the Western powers.

After the top five, the next largest industries are in Russia, Canada, Japan, Spain and India. Russia is highly dependent on military exports and, like China, receives generous government support. Canada, home to Bombardier, is particularly strong in business aviation and MRO. Japan and Spain have healthy aero structure segments and military final assembly facilities. India has high growth potential due to growing defense spending and strong engineering talent; Bangalore alone boasts more than 20,000 aerospace engineers. Yes, 20,000!

Up until this year the U.S. aerospace industry has seen constant double digit growth. If trade wars and other barriers to cost efficiency and export continue, that growth rate may well slow, but it will be many years until China catches up — remembering always that they have a five-year plan to do exactly that.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.