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The Plowden Report

PMN1

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From Richard Payne’s ‘Stuck on the Drawing Board’

‘In 1965, the government released a report into the industry and its future, which became known as the Plowden Report. Among many proposals in this report was the advocation that all future airliner projects were to be undertaken as collaborative ventures with Europe, bar some small aircraft. Many of the reports conclusions were negative and provided a field day for competitors who could seize on the fact that Britain appeared to be abdicating from airliner design and manufacture. It saw no predetermined place for an aircraft industry in Britain and the need to purchase from the United States the most complex of weapons systems.

One good point to come out of the report was that any future projects should not be tailor made for one carrier – a la VC-10 and Trident, and that there should be a sustained drive towards the export market.’


Did the Plowden report have a negative impact on the UK's aeroindustry, was it capable of remaining a player by itself?
 

TinWing

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PMN1 said:
From Richard Payne’s ‘Stuck on the Drawing Board’

‘In 1965, the government released a report into the industry and its future, which became known as the Plowden Report. Among many proposals in this report was the advocation that all future airliner projects were to be undertaken as collaborative ventures with Europe, bar some small aircraft. Many of the reports conclusions were negative and provided a field day for competitors who could seize on the fact that Britain appeared to be abdicating from airliner design and manufacture. It saw no predetermined place for an aircraft industry in Britain and the need to purchase from the United States the most complex of weapons systems.

One good point to come out of the report was that any future projects should not be tailor made for one carrier – a la VC-10 and Trident, and that there should be a sustained drive towards the export market.’


Did the Plowden report have a negative impact on the UK's aeroindustry, was it capable of remaining a player by itself?

It seems astonishing in hindsight that European collaboration on civilian projects was given so much credence when it should have been painfully obvious that a viable pan-European civilian aviation industry remained a long term prospect. Indeed, Airbus wouldn't truly be financial success story until the A320!

The sad reality is that the UK in 1965 still had a world class aero-engine sector, something that was almost entirely lacking in Europe at the time. The airframe industry was a different story, and in hindsight, it is clear that there wasn't a single British airframe manufacturer in 1965 with the marketing savy or financial clout to produce an equivilent to the DC-9, let alone the 747.

Amalgamation wasn't the answer either, considering the anti-competitive, monopolistic results. Government meddling resulted in a near total loss of entrepreneurial motivation in the aerospace sector.

Perhaps the best prospect for the British aviation industry would have been the outright cancellation of the Concorde and Government support of advanced research of high-bypass turbofans for subsonic airliners. Without the needless economic diversion to the financially doomed Concorde, the RB.211 might have been an early success, and the concept of an exclusive British aero-engine supplier for an America airframe manufacuturer might have been the roadmap for the future. Perhaps the RB.203 could have spurred an entirely British regional airliner, but the real tragedy was the misallocation of scarce resources to the technologially successful, but financially disasterous, Concorde!
 

PMN1

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Richard Payne suggest the RB211 fiasco and the government bail out that was required used up money that could have been used to develop the BAC3-11 and Bill Gunston suggests that bringing Hooker back even a year sooner would have probably saved RR from bankrupcy.
 

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