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Civil Aviation

Civil Aviation

Europe, as the second largest global producer of civil aircraft, also produces helicopters, aircraft engines, parts and components.


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  • EU civil aviation exports in 2010 (est): €46.5 billion
  • EU civil aviation imports in 2010 (est): €29.6 billion
  • EU civil aviation exports in 2010 in order of importance: China, United Arab Emirates, United States, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Australia.


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As well as the large civil aircraft built by companies like Boeing and Airbus, the civil aircraft sector includes large, medium, and small civil aircraft, helicopters and aero-engines, as well as parts and components. The civil aircraft sector is concentrated mainly in the United States and in Europe.

The European aircraft industry employed 499,800 people in 2009 (including military industry). The industry is highly concentrated with France, UK and Germany accounting for over two thirds of total employment. In 2009 Europe was the second biggest global producer after the US of civil aircraft. The sector in Europe is dominated by the production of large civil aircraft – aircraft designed to carry more than 100 passengers and relies heavily on external suppliers.

By far the most important barriers faced by EU producers of civil aircraft are the substantial subsidies paid to by the US government to their competitor Boeing in the United States. The EU believes that the US Federal Government and US states have provided Boeing with more than $15 billion in WTO-illegal direct subsidies or indirect subsidies through NASA and the US Department of Defense. The EU is currently testing the legality of these payments in the WTO. In 2006, the WTO ruled that Boeing was the beneficiary of illegal tax breaks from the US government through the Foreign Sales Corporation tax rebate system.

EU rules include a regulation to counter the effect of subsidies and unfair pricing for air services from non-EU countries.

When these practices are determined to have caused injury to EU air carriers, measures can be imposed, if they are in the Community interest.

Regulation (EC) N° 868/2004 concerning protection against subsidisation and unfair pricing causing injury to the Community air carriers in the supply of air services from countries not members of the European Community.