Global aerospace and defense industry financial performance study 2018

Commercial aerospace sector performance decelerates, while defense sector continues to expand

This study analyzes the top 100 global aerospace and defense (A&D) companies or those units of industrial conglomerates with A&D businesses that have generated at least US$500 million in revenues in 2017 – based on 19 key financial metrics.

The global A&D industry recuperated as its revenue grew in 2017. However, the growth was slower than the estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.1 percent in 2017. While the global defense sector led the overall industry growth, with revenues up by 3.9 percent in 2017, the global commercial aerospace sector’s growth further reduced by 1.5 percent. 

This report provides a detailed overview of how the global A&D sector and its segments performed in 2017 – using the data from the financial reports of all the 100 companies. It also draws a comparative analysis of the commercial aerospace and the defense sectors across major markets in the US and Europe. 


Key questions this report addresses:

  • Global A&D industry revenues grew 2.7 percent or US$18.3 billion in 2017 to reach US$685.6 billion.
  • Global defense sector revenues recorded a 3.9 percent increase as defense spending continues to rise across the globe.
  • The commercial aerospace sector’s revenue growth dropped from 2.7 percent in 2016 to 1.2 percent in 2017.
  • The US aerospace and defense industry outperformed its European counterparts, led by a robust performance of the US defense sector. 


The technology of flight is changing our skies and evolving the way we think about aviation. Passenger and delivery drones, and other elevated vehicles have the potential to address today’s urban congestion, improve logistics, and create new products, services, and markets. As the skies get busier, it will be an ongoing challenge to manage and maintain an increasingly diverse airspace, while keeping all air traffic moving safely and efficiently. Drones are being used across a range of areas, for research, public safety, in agriculture, transportation management, and surveillance. These new and emerging users of airspace deliver tremendous value, whether transporting people and/ or goods, responding to an emergency, or gathering site data. As the use of unmanned drones continues to rise, and passenger-carrying elevated vehicles are on the horizon, there is a need to establish who will manage the airspace and how. Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) have been the primary source of oversight for safe and secure airplane travel for decades, but how will the flight paths of thousands – possibly millions – of daily manned and unmanned drone flights be managed? A safe and sustainable system, one that supports growth and expansion while protecting life and property, is a must.

Defining the problem, exploring solutions, and assigning responsibility are critical to the success of all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) ecosystem stakeholders. This study explores those key elements and invites stakeholder dialogue to resolve the concerns associated with an air traffic management system that serves the needs of today’s aircraft, including unmanned vehicle systems, and establishes a foundation for the future of elevated travel associated with passenger drones.

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