Aerospace Manufacturing Is Taking Off
Led by mammoth companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Honeywell, aerospace has been a cornerstone of U.S. domestic manufacturing for decades. Now, the industry is poised to grow yet again, and new trends are opening enormous opportunities for manufacturers of all sizes, including startups.
Here’s a look at five significant trends propelling aerospace success — and why they’re poised to send the sector surging to brand new heights.
1. The rebirth of supersonic flight
Supersonic commercial flight has eluded the industry since the Concorde was decommissioned in 2003. Several obstacles have kept commercial flights from breaking the sound barrier: heavy fuel consumption, extreme carbon emissions, and the environmental effects of the telltale sonic boom.
Aerospace manufacturers are finally addressing these concerns head on. With innovative technology and the development of sustainable aviation fuel, companies like Denver-based Boom Supersonic, California’s Exosonic, and Boston-based Spike Aerospace are making progress. And if airframers fix these issues and receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, air travel will take a giant leap forward, boosted by demand for advanced manufacturing.
2. The surge of private aviation
In 2021, private aviation experienced a massive spike in business, mainly due to health concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry was ill-equipped to welcome the new influx of customers. It still faces a shortage of planes today, and production delays have made it difficult for the industry to grow.
As private aviation trends stabilize and remain strong, airframers are working at top speed to bring more jets into the market to meet demand. Not only will global airframers benefit, but U.S. producers like General Dynamics (i.e., Gulfstream) and Cessna Aircraft Company could see a big bump in orders. As production ramps up, so will employment.
3. The shift toward electric aircraft
For some people, electric aircraft might seem like a distant dream, but large companies like United Airlines and EasyJet plan on hosting their first commercial electric airline flights in 2026. With the growing push for sustainability in aviation, electric aircraft are a fast-moving innovation.
Companies like Wright Electric are paving the way for a new generation of planes. The company announced the 2026 unveiling of its all-electric 100-seater, the Wright Spirit. As electric planes prove themselves, demand will push more flights into the sky, and more workers will be needed to manufacture the planes.
4. The prospect of UAVs and air taxis
Once known as flying cars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and air taxis used to be science fiction, but companies like Joby Aviation, Uber, Boeing, and Hyundai are working toward making these vehicles a reality. Analysts expect to see UAVs, traveling at heights of 1,000 to 2,000 feet and speeds of up to 180 miles per hour, within the next decade. An offshoot of the traditional aviation sector, UAVs will be a prolific force for domestic manufacturing as more cities welcome air taxis into their public transportation systems.
5. The boom of aviation startups
More aviation startups are emerging because of increasing demand for sustainable aviation. In fact, there are now 1,762 businesses in the global military aircraft and aerospace manufacturing industry. With the advent of electric planes, sustainable aviation fuel, UAVs, advanced avionics, and more, the aerospace industry is changing fast. New startups, such as Joby Aviation, CesiumAstro, Iris Automation, and AirMap, are moving aviation and aerospace manufacturing into a new future of prosperity.
Aerospace is ready to take flight
Big things are happening in the aerospace industry for domestic manufacturers. As these trends gain momentum, they will create more jobs, spur innovation, and cement the U.S. aerospace industry as a global leader for another decade.