Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing & R&D Summit Fall 2019

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  • ATK: Boosting Competitiveness in the Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Sector

    Charles Precourt, a speaker at the marcus evans Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Summit 2012, on becoming more competitive in the sector.

    Interview with: Charles Precourt, Vice President and General Manager, Space Launch Systems, ATK


    The aerospace and defense manufacturing sector is an extremely narrow market that is becoming much more competitive, says Charles Precourt, Vice President and General Manager, Space Launch Systems, ATK. In the current economy, this leaves little room for error. Nevertheless, products that do not address a market demand have little chance of being successful.

    Ahead of the marcus evans Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Summit 2012, Precourt, a speaker at the event, shares his thoughts on the aerospace and defense marketplace, innovation and green manufacturing.

    What is your outlook on the aerospace and defense marketplace?

    Charles Precourt: This is an extremely narrow market that is becoming much more competitive. It mostly answers to government defense contracts and programs and at the same time, to purely commercial markets, such as satellites and aircraft for commercial use.

    The US government wants to achieve more cost savings and exploit the efficiencies that the commercial market has benefited from, but that requires a more commercial approach that it is not accustomed to. A lot of the products for the government customer base are unique and require special contractual mechanisms, so are not commoditized. The industry needs to help the government exploit these opportunities.

    How could the commercial market achieve more cost savings?

    Charles Precourt: In this economic environment, most companies, including those in the aerospace and defense product manufacturing sector, have taken similar initiatives: consolidation, becoming more lean, positioning for future growth in the economy and in market demand, reducing quality errors and addressing their ability to deliver higher yields.

    We have reduced both our staffing and footprint infrastructure by nearly 50 per cent over the last few years. However, we have been very careful to maintain critical skills and capabilities, so that production can be more cost effective when the market stabilizes and demand returns. It has not been easy, but we have had significant positive results and are much better off business-wise.

    Should the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations be revised?

    Charles Precourt: The ITAR regulations, especially in the space community for the US, have brought additional challenges that handicap our competitiveness in the global markets. On the space satellite business side, most of the systems outside the US are either partially or totally subsidized. This hinders our competitiveness.

    There is a move to reform the ITAR regulations, to strike a balance between national security objectives and return some competitiveness. Many question these regulations, as there is a long list of items that are being used and practiced and might even have been developed in other countries. Reform is a long process, but until then, this will be a disadvantage for this industry.

    How could green technologies be better utilized?

    Charles Precourt: The overarching objectives of green manufacturing are very valid, but at the same time, it is critical to look at the return on investment and the business case for making changes. Manufacturers should not move too far too fast, so that it does not become another burden on the business. The objective should not be to go green for the sake of it.

    What best practices for Research and Development (R&D) innovation could you share?

    Charles Precourt: Innovation comes from a recognition of a need. Products that are not met by demand in the marketplace are ultimately unsuccessful.

    From a business standpoint, you need to have a customer interface where problems are articulated and flowed back into the R&D system, so that R&D solves real problems. Many companies adopt a bottoms-up approach, where R&D could be an offshoot of product development. Research for the sake of it could result in a product with no clear application in the market.

    Although pure research has a place in the business too, we make sure that our R&D efforts focus on real problems and needs in the marketplace. That itself can bring innovation.

    Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

    Tel: + 357 22 849 313

    About the Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Summit 2012

    Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on ITAR regulations, effective automation and exploring emerging technologies.

    For more information please send an email to or visit the event website

    marcus evans group - defense sector portal

    Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

    About marcus evans Summits

    marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit 


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