Jose Karlo Mari Tottoc
In this article we will take a look at the top aircraft manufacturers in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of the aircraft industry’s outlook for 2021, and go directly to the Top 5 Aircraft Manufacturers in the World.
The aviation industry has come a long way since the days of Wright brothers and is expected to capture a market share of $562 billion in 2022.
The industry stands as one of the technological pinnacles of modern society.
Aircraft have been mass produced all over the world by big companies like Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), The Boeing Co (NYSE: BA), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Airbus SE (EPA: AIR) to name a few.
The competition has led to significant levels of innovation like better fuel efficiency in commercial aircraft and the incorporation of practical stealth features in military fighter jets.
The aviation market was expected to grow at a stable pace until the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted manufacturing, supply chains and flight operations all across the world.
According to a report by Nuffield Research, a total of around 400,000 individuals from the workforce in the industry were laid off due to halting operations amid lockdowns. The expected number for delivery of aircraft to airliners was well over a 1000 which was halved due to the pandemic.
However, while the pandemic caused the demand for passenger aircraft to plummet, it caused an increase in demand for air cargo by 9% for transportation partly due to the fact that e-commerce in countries that account for 65% of global B2C e-commerce experienced a 22% surge in 2020 relative to the previous year during the pandemic due to lockdowns and partly due to emergency supply of medical equipment across nations. Military aircraft demand on the other hand experienced no significant decline mostly for tactical reasons.
In the long run, the market is expected to grow significantly as the newer generation aircraft have better fuel efficiency and safety for commercial and general aviation customers and better situational awareness and tactical advantages for military aircraft on the supply side.
On the demand side, rising population, economically globalizing world and great power competition is likely to drive further growth for the aviation industry.
The aviation manufacturing industry encompasses all the fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft across commercial, military, and general aviation sectors.
Let’s first break down the types of aviation and the aircraft associated with each type.
Types of Aviation:
Piston Fixed Wing Planes
The boom in the industry has led to the establishment of some big companies in the aviation sector.
With that said, this article explores the top 10 aircraft manufacturers in the world. As you can see above, there are three general categories of aviation for different needs and each one boasts a robust market. Some of these manufacturers produce aircraft for all three categories mentioned above, while others specialize in a particular category.
The objective of this article is to explore the top aircraft manufacturers by the amount of revenue they generate respectively. Bear in mind however that the most recent revenue figures have been shown and the pandemic has caused significant decline of demand in the industry. Pre-pandemic revenue of these companies may or may not be higher.
With this context and industry outlook in mind, let’s start our list of the top 10 aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Top Aircraft Manufacturers in the World
10. United Aircraft Corporation (MCX: UNAC.ME)
Revenue: $6 billion (2017)
Ranking 10th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world is UAC. The company produces passenger planes, cargo aircraft, military planes, and special-purpose aeroplanes. The company employs 100,000 workers and has total assets worth $13 billion. UAC’s first ever produced aircraft were the Tupolev and Ilyushin aircraft, holdovers from the days of Soviet Union.
The first UAC model from the Russian Federation happened to be the Ilyushin Il-96, but the company only manufactured 30 of these. Currently, UAC manufactures the Tupolev Tu-214, a modern, sleek-body, medium-range jet with a glass cockpit and fly-by-wire controls. The company ranks 10th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world.
UAC designs and manufactures the Tu-214 in Ulyanovsk, Russia. Also, Kazan Aircraft produces the same aeroplane in Kazan, Russia. The company exports the Sukhoi Superjet 130, a competitor for the Bombardier C-Series and Embraer E-Jet. On the other hand, it is developing the Irkut MC21, its most modern effort to date. Moreover, the company’s other planned products are the 52-seat Il-114-300 regional turboprop and the CRAIC CR-929, a wide-body twin jet seating 416. However, CRAIC happens to be a joint venture of UAC and Comac and not a sole effort.
9. Bombardier Inc. (OTC: BDRBF)
Revenue: $6.5 billion (2020)
Bombardier, Inc. Class B (TSE:BBD.B) is a Canadian aircraft manufacturer that was founded back in 1989. The company originally manufactured snowmobiles but later switched to the aviation industry. It is specifically distinguished for manufacturing commercial and business jets. It’s C-series is particularly famous for being fuel efficient and attracts customers like Delta Air Lines. The company ranks 9th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Like Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), The Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), Bombardier is one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world.
8. Leonardo S.p.a. (OTC: FINMY)
Revenue: $16 billion (2020)
Leonardo SpA (BIT:LDO) is an Italian company that specializes in defense, security and aerospace. According to its 2020 annual report, the company employs nearly 50,000 people and has an operating income of about $601 million. Leonardo designs, manufactures and upgrades both civilian and military aircraft.
The company is part of a network of joint ventures and product partnerships such as Eurofighter which led to the development of Eurofighter Typhoon. The company ranks 8th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Like Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), The Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), Leonardo is one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Leonardo also engages in the helicopter market and offers services like development to production of helicopters, pilot training and after sales support. Leonardo produces a variety of helicopters for both the commercial and defense markets, including all the primary weight categories, from 1.8-tonne single-engine to 16-tonne three-engine helicopters.
7. Safran SA (EPA: SAF.PA)
Revenue: $19 billion (2021)
Safran SA (EPA:SAF) is a French SA company (French equivalent for Public company) that specializes in manufacturing aircraft engines and other aircraft components. In 2018, Safran took over Zodiac Aerospace which increased its aviation equipment manufacturing capacity.
The company has 81,000 active employees. The company’s well known customers include Boeing, Airbus and General Electric. Like Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), The Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), Safran is one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world. The company ranks 7th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world.
The company develops, produces and sells airplane engines, auxiliary power units, cabins, aerosystems, aircraft interiors, optronics, avionics, landing systems and other aircraft equipment. Safran translates as rudder blade as well as saffron, which the company markets as one of the catalysts for early international trade.
6. General Electric Aviation, Owned by General Electric Company (NYSE: GE)
Revenue: $22.04 billion (2020)
General Electric Aviation or GE Aviation is a subsidiary of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). It is one of the largest producers and sellers of jet engines, aviation integrated systems and other aircraft components. Among GE Aviation’s major customers are other aviation giants like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Bombardier and Sikorsky. The company boasts 40,000 active employees. General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) aviation manufactures jet engines for commercial airframes.
Their commercial engines power aircraft in regional, narrow-body and wide-body categories. They also manufacture engines and provide aftermarket services through joint ventures with the French Safran Group and Raytheon Technologies Corporation through their Pratt & Whitney segment. The company ranks 6th in the list of top aircraft manufacturers in the world.
When it comes to the military market, the company manufactures jet engines for military airframes. Their military engines are used in a variety of military planes including fighters, strategic bombers, air tankers, helicopters and surveillance planes.
The company also provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services including the selling of replacement parts. Moreover, a huge variety of products and services including additive machines from Concept Laser and Arcam EBM, additive materials (includes metal powders from AP&C), and additive engineering services are also provided.
Like Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX), Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), The Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) is one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Top 5 Aircraft Manufacturers in the World.
5. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC)
Revenue: $36.7 billion (2020)
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is a US based multinational aerospace and defense technology corporation.
The company employs 90,000 people and is one of the most established defense companies in the United States. Northrop Grumman has a customer base in 25 nations (allied countries).
It ranked at number 96 on the Fortune 500 list for America’s largest corporations. Northrop Grumman is the manufacturer of X-47B, the only unmanned autonomous drone deployable from an aircraft carrier.
Apart from that, it developed the world’s only known stealth bomber for the US Government, known as the B2 spirit and is currently developing B21 raider, a next generation long range stealth bomber that would replace the aging B2 spirit.
Other military aircraft in its portfolio include, E-8 joint STARS, RQ-4 Global Hawk for the US Air Force. For the US Navy on the other hand, it manufactures and supplies aircraft like C-2 Greyhound and E-2 Hawkeye. Also, the company produces components for other US military’s aircraft such as the F18 Hornet.
4. The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA)
Revenue: $58.16 billion (2020)
Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) is an American multinational corporation that specializes in designing, developing, manufacturing both civilian and military fixed wing as well as rotary wing aircraft, rockets, satellites and missiles. The company has a global customer base across many nations and sells to both civilian (commercial and general) and military sectors.
The company boasts 143,000 employees. It was the 2nd largest aerospace manufacturer based on 2018 revenue but as of 2020, the company has lost two spots. Most of it is attributed to the pandemic and two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 Max which cost hundreds of lives.
The company also lost its 2019 40th position and was pushed back to 121th position on the Fortune 500 list in 2020. However, Boeing is still a big deal and a very distinguished aerospace manufacturer. The company’s crown jewel, the original Boeing 737, is the most famous commercial aircraft in the world and by 2018, 10,000 of its units had been sold, a world record.
3. Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX)
Revenue: $58.6 billion (2020)
Raytheon Technologies Corp (NYSE: RTX) is an international defense and aerospace manufacturer. It’s headquarters are located in Waltham, Massachusetts. The corporation was formed after a merger between Raytheon Company and United Technologies Corporation.
The company boasts 181,000 employees. Raytheon Technologies designs and produces components for the aerospace and defense industry. These include aircraft engines, avionics, and aerostructures as far as their aircraft manufacturing capabilities go.
2. Airbus SE (EPA: AIR.PA)
Revenue: $60 billion (2020)
Airbus SE (EPA:AIR) is a trans-European multinational aerospace corporation. It is the 2nd largest aircraft manufacturer in the world by revenue according to 2020 figures. The company had 131,300 employees by the end of 2020. Airbus designs, develops, manufactures and sells both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft for both civilian and military sectors. The company had sold 8,000 units of its most famous aircraft, known as the Airbus A320 by 2018, making it the 2nd best selling commercial aircraft in the world. It was also the first aircraft with a digital fly-by-wire system.
1. Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT)
Revenue: $65.4 billion (2020)
Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) is an American company that designs, tests, manufactures and sells aerospace and advanced defense technology. It is the largest aerospace manufacturer by revenue as of 2020 beating both Boeing and Airbus to the number 1 spot.
Lockheed Martin approximately has 110,000 employees.
The company’s headquarters are located in North Bethesda, Maryland. The aerospace company’s primary customer is the US Government, specially the Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Lockheed Martin has some impressive aircraft inventions to its portfolio.
The company developed the highest flying and one of the fastest manned aircraft in the history of aviation, named as the SR71 Blackbird. It had a top speed and altitude of Mach 3.3 and 85,000 feet respectively. It was designed to be out of range of enemy radars and fighter jets. Operational costs and the advent of satellite reconnaissance later led to the retirement of the aircraft.
The defense contractor is also the first aircraft manufacturer to develop the first true stealth aircraft, F117, also called the nighthawk, starting a new chapter in the next generation military tactical aircraft. Lockheed Martin is also the manufacturer of F22 Raptor, the most advanced stealth air-superiority fighter only in service with the United States Air Force with its design details highly classified.
The jewel in the company’s crown is the F35 joint strike program, widely touted as the most expensive weapon system in military history, with the fleet’s operational and maintenance costs being more than $1 trillion. The F35’s varying versions are used by 3 US military branches, namely, the United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps and United States Navy. The aircraft also has 14 international buyers.