Minus Airbus which is a group of companies, why does the United Kingdom not produce aircraft anymore ie, the VC10.

  • $\begingroup$ Good question. I imagine that it's a combination of the high cost of labor and the fact that Airbus is sort of the de facto plane maker for Europe. How does a new British plane manufacturer compete with Airbus when the EU will do anything to guarantee failure of any British competition? $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @acpilot That's complete nonsense, sorry. Very few things actually are EU conspiracies... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Who says it's just Airbus? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ @FabrizioMazzoni Would you care to make a more reasonable guess? Because poor quality and bad technology really must be the reason that all Airbus wings are made in the UK, about 60% of the engines on Airbus planes are made in the UK, plus more than a third of the Eurofighter Typhoon and about 20% of the F-35. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ @user13555 It's a more sustainable argument to say that without the EU and Airbus, the British aerospace industry would be on life support, rather than being the worlds 3rd largest that it is now. No new designs, no capability to adjust to the explosion in air travel, a history of the right aircraft at the wrong time, no investment, stagnant manufacturing techniques firmly stuck in the 50s, no world beating aircraft ready for the 70s and beyond, no appetite on the part of the tax payer to continue to pour money into flag waving exercises and so on. That's why we don't build aircraft anymore. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 7:22

1 Answer 1


The root of the reason is the fact that aircraft design has become very expensive and the world economy cannot support more than a few companies anymore.

Look at other industrialized countries: They all used to have scores of aircraft companies, which all merged or went down over time. Russia might seem an exception, but the Russian design bureaus are not very productive anymore and kept alive artificially. By now, a national economy the size of Great Britain is too small to support even a single commercial jet builder.

In Augustine's Laws, Norman Augustine shows how aircraft prices have historically accelerated at a faster rate than the economy, and driving this to it's ultimate conclusion, he predicts for the US military:

In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day."

There is no conspiracy about it, economics is enough for a convincing explanation. If there is a culprit for the early death of many British aircraft makers, it would be the British Government bureaucracy itself, with a helping hand given by BOAC management. Britain effectively nationalized her aircraft industry at the onset of WW II, and left it to Government bureaucrats to decide which aircraft to build next. This produced aircraft like the Saunders-Roe Princess or the Bristol Brabazon which incorporated many innovations, but were conceptually completely behind their times. When they once tried to be visionary, they steered all efforts into supersonic airliners, which also proved to become a dead end.

When British designers tried to design jet airliners, BOAC management saw no market for a jet airliner but bought the Boeing 707 less than a year later. If you desire to see a conspiracy behind the early death of many British airliner projects, maybe start looking here. The EU certainly has nothing to do with it.


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