Aircraft orders dry up

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH aerospace industry is facing a gap in orders that could cost thousands of jobs, after Germany's decision last week to slow down development on the European Fighter Aircraft, writes David Bowen.

Production of the Tornado is running down, and the factories that make its components are faced with a five-year wait before the EFA run begins.

'With every report the EFA project moves another year to the right,' said Frank Turner, managing director of Lucas Aerospace, last week. 'We must find new projects to fill the lengthening gap.'

The aerospace industry is suffering from a scarcity of both civil and military work. Analysts say airline orders are unlikely to pick up until 1996, with work not feeding through to components makers until a year later.

Mr Turner said the best hope was for the Ministry of Defence to order Lockheed C- 130Js to replace the RAF's fleet of Hercules transporters. Advertisements by the C-130J UK Industrial Support Group of 23 companies, say that the programme will support 3,500 jobs and generate more than pounds 2.3bn of revenue for the UK.

Whatever the Hercules decision, a spokesman for one of the biggest UK aerospace companies said that he could see 'a huge problem' in getting to the year 2000. 'Inevitably there is going to be some attrition in the industry.'

Wing in each corner, page 5

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