The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Aerospace got off to a flying start in the House of Commons this week, holding its first meeting of the new parliament. The group, chaired by City of Chester MP Chris Matheson, aims to promote awareness of all aspects of the UK aerospace sector in Parliament and Government.

With a strong turnout from both politicians and industry, attendees spoke highly of the sector’s contribution to UK jobs, skills, exports and growth, and discussed challenges for 2016 and beyond.

The UK Aerospace Industry, with a 17% global market share, is the largest aerospace sector in Europe and second largest globally to the USA. The sector offers exciting global growth opportunities – with the potential for 60,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years – and is vital to the UK’s future as a high-tech, high-skill, high-wage economy.

The sector is highly productive and globally competitive – but global competition is increasing and other countries want a piece of this market. Investing in innovation and further improving productivity are essential to strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage, attract investment and grow our share of the global market.

That is why the 10 year commitment to the Aerospace Technology Institute in the Spending Review is so important. With government funding matched by industry, this will result in £3.9bn of investment in aerospace R&D since 2013.

This long-term funding for aerospace R&D will help ensure the UK remains one of the most attractive locations and give industry confidence to continue investing in the stimulation of breakthrough technologies which lead to a larger share of the export market and higher productivity.

It was great to hear Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the sector at this week’s APPG. The wide range of questions posed by both politicians and industry – from commercialising new technologies to supply chain opportunities for small businesses, from attracting global investment to the importance of skills and encouraging more young people to study science and technology – demonstrated the genuine interest in this high-productivity, export-intensive sector.

After a successful first meeting, and with discussions underway for future events in 2016, it is clear that the APPG on Aerospace has been cleared for take-off.