AIAA Says the Aerospace Industry Outlook Is Cautiously Optimistic Written 14 September 2021


Survey of Industry Professionals Reveals Need for Continued Innovation and Success


September 14, 2021 – Reston, Va. – To move forward after a turbulent year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is assessing the path ahead. In a recent survey, AIAA asked its members and the aerospace community at large—including leaders, professionals, academics, and students—to gauge overall sentiment and industry outlook, as well as challenges and opportunities. The initial findings were released today in the Executive Summary, available for download immediately. The full report, “2021 AIAA State of the Industry Report: The Health and Future Outlook of the Aerospace Industry,” will be released the week of September 27.

The report reveals perspectives of those who are driving the profession forward. The data spans the three AIAA domains—Aeronautics, Aerospace Research and Development (R&D), and Space. Top-line findings include:

  • The aerospace industry outlook is cautiously optimistic. More than 80% of respondents are somewhat and very positive about the future of the aerospace industry. Not surprisingly, the mood is more subdued in the aviation sector, with only 75% reporting a positive outlook.
  • Careers in aerospace are promising. Current professionals in the industry would recommend a career in aerospace to a young person right now—with a net promoter score (NPS) of 29.
  • Cybersecurity tops the list of challenges facing aerospace and defense. Cybersecurity stands out among the most significant challenges—those in the United States place it as one of the top two priorities for their organizations.
  • Professionals rank technologies based on where they see opportunity. The most opportunities are seen in advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence/machine learning—but space has the momentum at this time.
  • Public policy priorities for aerospace are clear. Stable funding, research investments, technology infrastructure, and an educated workforce pipeline are seen as priorities for congressional and executive branch action, cutting across industry sectors.
  • Demonstrating commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a focus. DEI is viewed as a priority for employees, especially tied to workforce development. Despite the focus, workers are not sure employers are making the most meaningful changes.
  • COVID-19 impacts will continue as the aviation sector recovers. Pandemic-related challenges impacted business operations across sectors. Nearly 30% of aerospace professionals reported seeing changes in travel due to COVID-19 as transformational to their business operations. New levels of interdisciplinary collaboration will be required for long-term success in the aviation industry recovery.

“AIAA is committed to solving the problems, developing new ideas, and applying technology in creative ways to build a better future for everyone. The findings in the ‘2021 AIAA State of the Industry Report’ affirm our key issues and provide new insights that will help us address our community’s immediate needs and priorities as we shape the future of aerospace. We will use this data to help make progress at the pace required to accelerate innovation in our three domains—Aeronautics, Aerospace R&D, and Space,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA Executive Director.

The “2021 AIAA State of the Industry Report: The Health and Future Outlook of the Aerospace Industry” summarizes the findings from a survey of approximately 1,000 people conducted by Edge Research on behalf of AIAA in April 2021. Respondents were from across the United States and 37 other countries. Respondents included AIAA members—current aerospace professionals, academics, students (master’s and Ph.D.)—and nonmembers.

AIAA Media Contact: Rebecca B. Gray,, 804-397-5270 cell

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn