Aerospace industry sales set to rise

WASHINGTON - The aerospace industry rebounded last year in the face of continuing declines in military spending almost solely on the strength of increased orders for commercial aircraft, says Don Fuqua, president of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in Washington.

By John Rhea

WASHINGTON - The aerospace industry rebounded last year in the face of continuing declines in military spending almost solely on the strength of increased orders for commercial aircraft, says Don Fuqua, president of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in Washington.

Sales for the industry rose from $106.3 billion in 1995 to $112.4 billion last year, the first increase in five years. Although sales to the Defense Department dropped $3 billion over the year to $38.3 billion, commercial aircraft sales rose by $3.7 billion to $27.7 billion.

Fuqua projects industry sales to increase by another 11 percent this year to $125 billion with $12.9 billion of the increase from civil aircraft. DOD sales are expected to fall again to $36 billion. Sales of space products remain steady at about $27 billion, and related products and services contribute about another $18 billion.

Of even more significance is the turnaround in industry employment, according to Fuqua. "Employment will finally bottom out and by the end of 1997 we will have increased our workforce by 39,000 people," he says. "And while that is not a huge number, after six years of decline and a loss of 41 percent, it`s good news."

In its year-end review, AIA leaders estimate employment rose from 786,000 in 1995 to 806,000 in 1996.

Another encouraging sign is the increased backlog of orders, which is up 15 percent from last year to $129 billion and is expected to grow 18 percent this year. Once again commercial aircraft sales are leading the way, and Fuqua says the forecast for a $1 trillion market for jetliners over the next two decades is "still a good one."

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