The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Aircraft ailerons.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry
Aircraft ailerons is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence
An Aircraft aileron is a hinged surface on the trailing edge of the wings on a fixed wing aircraft. Ailerons are used in pairs to control the aircraft and alter the flight path through the tilting of the lift vector.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of aircraft ailerons.
Key players in aircraft ailerons – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to aircraft ailerons
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Boeing||84||Unlock company profile|
|Airbus||39||Unlock company profile|
|AeroVironment||25||Unlock company profile|
|Bombardier||15||Unlock company profile|
|Israel Aerospace Industries||9||Unlock company profile|
|Leonardo||8||Unlock company profile|
|Raytheon Technologies||8||Unlock company profile|
|XTI Aircraft||8||Unlock company profile|
|Textron||8||Unlock company profile|
|Embraer||6||Unlock company profile|
|Foshan Shenfeng Aviation Technology||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in aircraft ailerons, showcasing the company’s innovations in terms of aircraft design and production. Boeing’s patents in 2022 include various filings to flight control and limitations testing. Another leading company in this sector is AeroVironment, which produces a number of UAV systems and have filed patents to advance UAV technologies, including the potential development of a HALE UAV. Some of the other key patent filers in the industry include Embraer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Leonardo.
In terms of application diversity, Raytheon is a leader, with Boeing in second and IAI in third. By geographic reach, AeroVironment is first, followed by IAI and Leonardo.
Patent filings for ailerons amongst other technology are dominated by large aerospace and defence companies, which seek to innovate for future products.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace and Defence.