The Massive Global Aerospace Industry and Top 10 Corporations Powering its Growth

The worldwide aerospace sector is truly staggering in its scale and economic impact. Both commercial aviation and defense aerospace are worth over $300 billion annually today. Thousands of companies operate in various niches, but the industry landscape is dominated by a select group of behemoth, public multinational corporations like Boeing, Airbus and Raytheon Technologies.

This guide will analyze the 10 largest aerospace companies on the planet based on their 2022 market capitalization. For context, we‘ll first briefly profile the different segments that make aerospace such an invaluable high-tech industry.

Introduction to Aerospace: Aviation, Space and Defense

The aerospace industry consists of several crucial capability areas:

Commercial Aviation – Large airliners, regional jets, corporate aircraft, engines, systems, airports, Airlines, etc.

Business Aviation – Private jets, propeller planes, helicopter fleets, charter services, fractional ownership

General Aviation – Small personal aircraft, flight training, recreational flying

Space – Satellite manufacturing and launch vehicles, rocket propulsion, ground segments, space exploration

Defense – Military aircraft, vehicles, weapons plus associated R&D programs

Parts Manufacturing – Components, Avionics, software and structural materials

Aerospace directly enables transportation via flight along with space-based services like GPS, weather monitoring and global communications. Meanwhile, continued innovation by defense contractors protects national security interests in the air, space and cyber domains.

Crucial Aerospace Innovations

This high-tech, R&D intensive industry continues advancing through innovations like:

  • Additive manufacturing using 3D printing of lighter, stronger metal alloys for structurals parts
  • Advanced "fly-by-wire" avionics and flight control systems
  • AI-enabled analytics for predictive maintenance and engine health monitoring
  • Electrification of smaller aircraft types using hybrid power
  • Hypersonic weapons and vehicles reaching Mach 5+ speeds

Market Size and Future Growth Projections

In 2021, the total global aerospace industry was worth $310 billion according to the Teal Group. This market size declined in the past few years due to COVID-19‘s impact on commercial aviation but is recovering quickly.

Industry analysts forecast the overall market expanding at 4-5% annual rate through 2030, with higher growth for commercial aerospace and space systems. Key drivers will be increasing air travel demand globally plus a new generation of aircraft programs entering service.

Governments are also enhancing defense budgets to modernize aged equipment and prepare for potential future conflicts. This spells opportunities for contractors providing upgraded missiles, radars, tactical networks and other technologies.

Largest Aerospace Companies by Market Capitalization

Now let‘s analyze the 10 aerospace companies with the highest market caps based on their share prices in early 2022:

RankCompanyHeadquartersMarket Cap (Billions)
1Raytheon TechnologiesUSA$124.5
3Lockheed MartinUSA$109.0
4Northrop GrummanUSA$78.5
8TransDigm GroupUSA$28.3
9BAE SystemsUK$27.5
10Howmet AerospaceUSA$13.7

Below we will profile each of these 10 aerospace leaders, providing origins, products, technologies, financial metrics and outlook.

#10 Howmet Aerospace: Precision Castings and Components Leader

Founded 1916 as Hotchkiss Company, Howmet Aerospace has grown into one of largest aerospace parts suppliers globally. The company employs over 19,000 staff across 30+ production sites serving engine OEMs, airframers and defense contractors.

Howmet is especially proficient at investment casting, forging and advanced machining to create mission-critical jet engine and airframe components. As the aerospace industry recovered in 2021, Howmet achieved $5 billion in sales. Its fastest growing segment is commercial aerospace, benefiting from record order backlogs at Boeing and Airbus.

Buoyed by rising build rates for next-generation narrowbody jets, Howmet‘s sales could approach $7 billion by 2025. With additional technologies like additive manufacturing and multi-material printing, Howmet Aerospace aims to enhance future aircraft performance while reducing weight.

#9 BAE Systems: Defense and Security Innovator

BAE Systems was formed in 1999 from the merger of British Aerospace and other assets. The London headquartered firm now employs over 83,000 staff across a dozen countries. As the third largest defense contractor globally, BAE provides combat vehicles, naval ships, missile systems cyber tools and other technologies primarily for government customers.

For example, BAE produces F-35 components, Typhoon fighters for European forces and other aircraft used by dozens of allied air forces. The company also upgrades/maintains existing fleets and creates next-gen concepts like the Tempest future fighter project with the UK and Italy.

Despite uncertainty around budgets, BAE Systems still forecasts 2-4% organic growth aided by its diverse technology portfolio spanning all military domains. Geopolitical tensions also drive longer-term demand signals as NATO members modernize inventories.

#8 TransDigm Group: Profitable Niche Components Consolidator

Founded 1993 in Cleveland, Ohio, TransDigm Group has grown via the acquisition of over 80 aerospace component firms. Today the company consists of dozens of subsidiaries that manufacture highly engineered proprietary parts for nearly all major OEMs plus aftermarket providers.

Examples include ignition systems, pumps, valves, actuators, latches and other essential components with large installed bases across transport, helicopter and fighter jet segments. About half of TransDigm‘s revenue comes from recurring aftermarket and MRO sales.

For full-year 2021, Transdigm achieved nearly $5 billion in total revenue, with 30% EBITDA margins. The company paid out its first special dividends since 2019, highlighting cash flow resiliency. These niche parts and aftermarket models historically aid TransDigm in weathering market cyclicality.

As air travel activity continues ramping up post-pandemic, TransDigm anticipates at least mid single digit organic growth through 2023. It also maintains a healthy balance sheet to pursue other component manufacturers and augment content on future aircraft designs.

#7 Safran: French Propulsion and Equipment Leader

Safran is relatively unknown outside of Europe yet ranks among the aerospace elite today with over $16 billion in 2021 sales. Formed by a 2005 merger between Snecma and Sagem, the company initially focused on commercial jet engines before expanding into defense, space and aircraft equipment via additional deals.

Key assets now include the massive CFM International joint venture producing LEAP engines for Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX narrowbodies. Safran also makes engine parts for widebodies and fighters, while supplying landing gear systems, wiring harnesses and more to major OEMs globally.

Following the 2018 integration of Zodiac Aerospace for $10 billion, Safran enjoys strong positions in seats, galleys, lavatories and cabin interiors for commercial planes and business jets. These products carry high margins and align with Safran’s strategy of targeting profitable technologies.

Bolstered by services and spare part sales, Safran generates ample cash to fund new projects like open rotor demonstrators and "wing propulsion" studies with Airbus. Its 2021 EBIT margin exceeded 12% and management forecasts continued strong performance this decade.

#6 Airbus: World‘s Largest Commercial Aircraft Manufacturer

Airbus has effectively toppled Boeing as top civil aviation producer based on deliveries and new sales since 2019 troubles with the 737 MAX. But the European consortium had already been advancing towards parity by offering upgraded versions of its hot-selling A320 and widebodies.

In 2021, Airbus delivered over 800 aircraft including 516 in its top-selling A320 family. The next generation A320neo continues seeing high demand with nearly 7,000 orders so far. Airbus has also achieved success with long-range variants of the A350 and is studying a new A321XLR.

On defense side, Airbus designs and produces military transports, helicopters, fighter jets and communications satellites. It continues investing heavily in R&D and future programs like zero-emission planes and UAV taxi drones. Not just commercial aviation – Airbus also has intensive urban air mobility efforts underway.

With the aviation recovery accelerating, Airbus secured 722 net orders in 2021. Its $58 billion backlog will sustain near record production for years ahead. And services like predictive maintenance and fleet health monitoring leverage valuable aircraft data to assist operators while providing Airbus added revenue streams beyond initial sales.

#5 Boeing: Aviation Pioneer Now Rebuilding Trust

The OG American aerospace innovator, Boeing remains integral for air travel and space despite stumbles with the 737 MAX tragedies and Starliner delays. The company now looks to rebuild trust and reassert technology leadership this decade.

Boeing still anticipates $9 trillion in demand for commercial airplanes globally over next 20 years as air travel keeps increasing post-pandemic. Its civil order book exceeds 4,000 jets currently. While attempting to ramp 737 production, Boeing also continues advancing the 777X widebody and 787 composite plane.

Meanwhile Boeing‘s defense arm provides fighters, helicopters, bombers plus logistics for global militaries. Space projects include satellites, rockets and NASA‘s Space Launch System. And Boeing Global Services assists airlines with analytics, upgrades and training using experience from supporting nearly 3,000 commercial planes currently flying.

Despite past mistakes, Boeing spent over $7 billion on R&D during 2021, highlighting commitment to next-gen programs like eco-friendly aircraft, autonomous systems and advanced manufacturing. Expect a motivated Boeing to aggressively compete on new projects while striving to restore max brand value longer-term.

#4 Northrop Grumman: Strategic and Technology Powerhouse

Northrop Grumman plays a pivotal role in countless American national security and scientific missions. The company leverages nine decades of engineering experience to provide manned and unmanned aircraft, missile defense shields, space telescopes and other revolutionary technologies.

For example, Northrop produces fuselages, radar and comm systems for F-35 fighters globally. It is also lead contractor for the classified B-21 Raider stealth bomber program, considered one of the most crucial air assets under development today.

Meanwhile in space domain, Northrop built NASA‘s iconic James Webb telescope while actively supporting intelligence community satellite programs. The company also continues modernizing ICBMs and offers advanced C4ISR solutions connecting every military branch.

90% of Northrop‘s revenues originate directly from governments. While fiscal budgets fluctuate, geopolitical tensions indicate high demand for Northrop‘s specialized offerings ranging from nuclear deterrence to cyber weapons and electronic warfare capabilities used across air, land, sea and space.

#3 Lockheed Martin: Premier Defense + Space Innovator

Lockheed Martin enjoys an unrivaled reputation for technologies that bolster national security and scientific discovery. The company directly enables missions fulfilling America‘s defense, space exploration and cutting-edge research priorities.

For example, Lockheed‘s advanced fighters like the record-setting F-35 and F-22 dominate skies globally. Meanwhile, spacecraft built by Lockheed have journeyed to every planet in our solar system. The company also provides central technologies for ballistic missile defense, GPS, reconnaissance and future warfare.

Additionally, Lockheed continues driving innovations in areas like directed energy, quantum sciences, fusion power plus industrial automation. It reputably operates classified "Skunk Works" advanced projects for high-priority government missions.

In 2021, Lockheed Martin generated $67 billion in sales – over 70% directly from the Pentagon and other federal agencies. While concentrating on these core U.S. customers, Lockheed does export variants of fighters, naval systems and other hardware internationally. But domestic programs remain vital and geopolitics signal strong funding levels over the 2020s.

#2 Honeywell Aerospace: Total Aircraft Systems Optimization

Honeywell may be best known for smart home thermostats but aerospace represents its largest division, worth over $15 billion annually. As a foremost aviation electronics and component provider, Honeywell‘s technologies help aircraft function, fly connected and operate optimally.

For example, Honeywell builds jet engines, auxiliary power units, wheels, brakes and landing systems fitted to over 100,000 planes and helicopters globally. It also provides avionics, wifi systems plus predictive maintenance to enhance situational awareness and reduce disruptions.

Additionally, Honeywell Aerospace integrates flight data analytics, navigation databases and other digital solutions to optimize whole fleets for airlines and business aviation. These offerings demonstrate Honeywell‘s strengths in system engineering and passion for aviation.

The company sees abundant opportunities as increasing global flight activity drives demand for spare parts and upgrades. Honeywell also continues investing aggressively in next-gen aircraft, advanced air mobility, unmanned systems, hybrid electric propulsion and sustainable fuels.

#1 Raytheon Technologies: Defense and Aerospace Conglomerate

Formed via the megamerger of United Technologies and Raytheon businesses in 2020, Raytheon Technologies Corporation now seems poised for long term industry dominance given its scale, technology depth and balanced portfolio spanning both commercial and military worlds.

Raytheon‘s Collins Aerospace unit provides aviation systems from cockpits to cabins plus engines through the storied Pratt & Whitney brand. Collins will prosper as Boeing and Airbus work through huge narrowbody backlogs this decade. Meanwhile, Pratt powers the latest widebodies and fighters with advanced geared turbofans.

The missile and defense business also enjoys strong backlogs producing Patriot interceptors, Tomahawk cruise missiles plus radar and sensing systems used globally. Future growth programs are funded across airborne combat, missile defense, cyber and space sensors.

In total, Raytheon Technologies provides technologies onboard over 25,000 aircraft and within 350+ defense systems. The company ended 2021 with sales exceeding $63 billion. Through its tech leadership and heft, Raytheon seems well positioned to shape the future of flight and defense capabilities worldwide.

Conclusion: Aerospace Innovation Remains Vital

This analysis profiled the 10 largest public corporations helping advance aerospace technologies for aviation, national security and space exploration. Despite facing pressing industry challenges like sustainability and supply chain volatility, these leading companies represent over $600 billion in market value currently.

Backed by loyal long-term institution customers and secular demand tailwinds, the aerospace primes can invest confidently in next-generation programs like hypersonic vehicles, AI-enabled systems and zero emissions aircraft.

Continual engineering achievements by these highly innovative firms will help drive economic growth, safeguard countries, and push scientific frontiers for decades ahead. With aerospace playing such a unique, multifaceted role globally, expect these dominant organizations above to retain indispensable influence over its future trajectories.

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