Dr. Richter, the German aerospace industry currently employs some 110,000 people. The German automotive industry, by contrast, employs 820,000 people. What makes you say that aerospace is a key industry for Germany and for Europe?
Dr. Klaus Richter: Everybody thinks of Germany as a country that makes cars, not aircraft. But while seven percent of all cars worldwide come from Germany, fully 17 percent of the world’s aircraft are made here. The reason for this success is our innovative power: the aerospace industry invests a tenth of its revenue in R&D-almost twice as much as other sectors do. And the spillover effects are substantial. Whether it’s the autopilot or lightweight construction in the automotive industry, the anti-lock braking system or shark-skin surfaces for wind turbines, numerous technological innovations originate in the aerospace sector. Other industries and the country as a whole benefit from the pioneering advances made in this field.
What’s your assessment of the German aviation industry’s position in the world market, and in the global value chain of aircraft construction?
Richter: Every aircraft in the world contains technology made in Germany. Today, one out of every six passenger airplanes delivered to airlines around the globe is manufactured in Germany, totaling some 300 each year! The German supplier industry is a major part of the ramp-up that’s currently underway. I’m especially pleased to see that SMEs-our hidden champions-are acquiring more and more stakes in programs on the global market. Aviation is an international growth market, forecast to expand at an outstanding five percent annually. We’re expecting contracts for more than 30,000 widebody aircraft over the next two decades, adding up to an impressive five trillion U.S. dollars. Right now we have to pour all our efforts into ensuring that our aircraft remain the world’s best and most efficient for the next five, ten and twenty years, as that’s the only way to achieve success on the global market.