UK aerospace industry 'at risk of being overtaken'

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The Independent Online

Britain's aerospace industry could be overtaken by other nations within a decade without more research & development incentives, ministers have been warned.

Sir Roger Bone, president of Boeing UK since 2005, told The Independent: "We do have to pay particular attention to investment in R&D and our human skills base. If we let that slip then we can't suddenly catch up."

Although Sir Roger, a former diplomat, has been impressed by the Government's policy to create a £200m network of seven Technology and Innovation Centres, he believes more needs to be done to support manufacturing. The UK has a strong aerospace industry, though this is typically at the cutting edge of technology that needs frequent investment.

He argued: "It's not always apparent the return that you get out of R&D at the time you invest it. But I would like to feel sure that in 10 years that the [UK] aerospace industry is as competitive at the hi-tech end as it is now. We really need consistent focus at the government level on R&D to demonstrate that this is a government priority."

Boeing, which is US based, employs 1,200 in the UK.