UK Flag
ENL Ltd +44 (0)23 9266 8517
ENL SK s.r.o. +421 (0)33 791 0000

How Delivering Net Zero Can Help the UK Aviation Industry Build Back Better

ENL Group is a company that has deep roots in the aviation and aerospace sectors.

Sixty years ago, our predecessor, a piano-making company, started to diversify into supplying various components for the aerospace industry.

Now, more than half a century later, as one of the UK’s leading plastic injection moulding manufacturers, aerospace is one of the key sectors that we support. We have relationships across civil and defence providers, with household names such as Airbus, Boeing, and Bombardier amongst our customers. In fact, when you take a flight on an Airbus plane, there is a part manufactured and supplied by us.

A Year of Challenge

Being so closely involved in the aerospace industry, we know just how challenging a year 2020 was for the sector. The COVID pandemic arguably impacted on aerospace more than any other industry, as a collapse in passenger numbers led to falling orders for planes.

Compared to record levels of orders and deliveries that we have seen in recent years, the sector has struggled to maintain its position as airline income has been heavily impacted by reduced air travel, leading to a tightening of finances and a reduction in order books.

In the last 12 months, global figures indicate that there has been a 42% fall in deliveries from 2019 figures, and an even higher 55% reduction from 2018’s delivery numbers. Orders for new planes paint a similar picture, plummeting almost 60% on the previous year.

The pandemic also impacted on maintenance, with reduced need for ongoing maintenance and repairs as flights were grounded. The total impact on the industry has been profound, with manufacturers forced to scale back their plans in order to weather the storm that the pandemic has created.

However, whilst the short-term impact is highly challenging, indications are that the existing backlog in orders will help the sector to bounce back more rapidly than some others. Whilst the backlog of orders fell by 6.6%, there remains several years of work in the pipeline for the industry, with a value of £190 billion to the UK economy. This means that once consumer confidence has retuned and travel routes have opened up once more, the aerospace sector is set to rebound, fuelled by pent up demand for air travel for both leisure and business.

Here at ENL Group, we are ready to play our own part in supporting sector recovery, by continuing to supply durable, lightweight, and high-quality plastic components on which the airline industry depends.

Government and Industry Action

Several government and industry led responses have been put into place to support UK aerospace. In addition to the wider schemes such as furlough and COVID recovery loans, there has been specific support focused on the sector itself. This support has often been specifically focused on helping the sector develop new technologies and approaches that can help it to contribute to meeting the national target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is an ambition that is attracting serious investment. Over the next three years, almost £900 million will be invested through government and the industry in order to accelerate the development of new technologies which could place the UK at the forefront of green air travel.

This is part of a suite of measures that have been backed by senior figures from the industry, to achieve net zero aviation by 2050. What makes this target even more challenging, is that also assumes a 70% in passenger numbers over the same period.

If successful, however, it will make an enormous contribution to the nation’s wider net zero ambitions. It would effectively mean the UK aviation industry moving from producing 30 million tons of CO2 annually to producing none at all.

Delivering such an incredible reduction can only be delivered through a fundamental shift in the technology that is used for aviation. Indeed, achieving it depends on the rapid development of technologies that do not currently exist, such as electric and hydrogen powered planes, as well as looking at ways to produce greener aviation fuel, for instance by recycling commercial cooking oil. The work forms part of what is known as the Jet Zero initiative. This ambitious programme believes that the UK is currently on track to deliver the first zero-emission Transatlantic flight within a generation.

However, whilst all the focus will rightly be on these exciting new technologies, it is critical to remember that net zero will also be delivered through a range of other modifications too. Critical to this will be issues such as the design and weight of planes which will enable them to reduce fuel use and cut the amount of carbon emissions.

We have seen a similar process in the automotive industry, where electric vehicles have sought to reduce weight to improve efficiency. Key to this has been embracing modern polymer components to replace weightier metal ones. Small weight savings on individual components soon add up to a large saving overall, which is critical for delivering increased efficiency.

ENL has its roots in aviation, and has seen the sector innovate, change, and develop as technologies and society have changed over the past 60 years. The move to cleaner air travel, with electronic and hydrogen powered planes, will be the next phase in the evolution of a UK aviation industry that has never stood still.

We know that the levels of innovation and ambition within the UK aviation industry are unmatched. Just as we have done for the last 60 years, ENL is ready to play its part, to support the designers, inventors, and innovators who will not only rebuild aviation post-COVID but will create a truly modern aviation industry for all of our net zero futures.

About ENL Group

ENL Group is based in Portsmouth, UK and Veľké Kostoľany, Slovakia. Established in 1958, we have been servicing UK-based and European companies for decades. Working with a secure supply chain, ENL provides quality components for quality-driven customers – with full certification for all our products and quality checking at every stage.

Operating 24/7, we design, manufacture and deliver critical components for our customers across the UK and Europe.

Contact Us for more information about ENL and how we can help your business.