U.S. aerospace industry sales will climb almost 13 percent to $57 billion next year, continuing an upward trend begun in 1978, Karl G. Harr Jr., president of the Aerospace Industries Association, predicted last week.
In his annual review of the industry's status before the Aviation/Space Writers Association, Harr said aerospace industry sales in 1980 are expected to total $50.5 billion, up from $45 billion in 1979. Adjusted for inflation, sales will be the highest since 1969.
Broken down by product groups, aircraft will account for nearly 65 percent of the total 1980 sales, Harr said, with $17.2 billion in sales of civil aircraft and $14.8 billion in sales of military aircraft. Sales of missiles, space, and nonaerospace products and services account for the rest.
Aerospace exports rose almost 25 percent in 1980 to a record $14.6 billion. Harr noted that aerospace continues to be the United States' top manufacturing exporter with a net balance of trade estimated at about $11.3 billion.
The year-end backlog is expected to top $97 billion, up 30 percent from the $75 billion on the books at the end of 1979. The backlog is "a strong, promising indicator of industry health," the AIA's yearend review and forecast noted.
Despite the optimistic projections, Harr noted that the aerospace industry is seriously affected by the problems of the national economy and requires the same stimulation of innovation and improved productivity. He added that improved foreign trade policies and a better environment for capital investment are also essential.
In giving the incoming administration "some unsolicited advice," Harr suggested some major changes in the defense procurement system, including multiyear procurement funding, more realistic projections of inflation rates in estimating program costs, and reduction of the "increased layering of controls" in the procurement process.
He also urged the new administration to strengthen the U.S. space program by allowing and supporting promising new economic and technical applications offered by space. He also called on the government to concentrate on maintaining U.S. leadership in the world commercial aircraft marketplace by establishing a policy that accords high priority to export sales and provides American exporters incentives similar to those available to the competition.