Sector deep dive: Aerospace and defence

While this is a sector with a limited number of players in the top 100, it has strong representation from some leading European-based businesses. These include Safran, Thales and Rolls Royce, with US giants Raytheon and Boeing also making the list. In 2020 Raytheon completed its merger with United Technologies – the combined business boasting a patent portfolio of significant depth and breadth. In fact, the company falls just outside the top 10 largest patent owners in the United States.

The areas of research that feature prominently among the largest European patent owners in this space include structural design and light weighting, propulsion systems, HVAC systems and navigation and signalling.

Table 1. Aerospace and defence players from top 100

Company nameEU grantsIndustryCountry of origin
Safran13,401Aerospace and defenceFrance
GZBV (Airbus)11,221Aerospace and defenceNetherlands
Raytheon Technologies10,779Aerospace and defenceUnited States
Thales7,380Aerospace and defenceFrance
The Boeing Company5,630Aerospace and defenceUnited States
Rolls-Royce Holdings3,915Aerospace and defenceUnited Kingdom

Table 2. Technology trends

Top trendsTop playersActive grantsTop players 2019-2020Active grants 2019-2020Key areasOther key players
Signalling and controlAirbus961Airbus279Aircraft indicators, flight control instrumentation, remote-controlled vehicle, onboard signalling and control instrumentation, aircraft communications, simultaneous control of multiple aircrafts, landing gear, course control, power electronics, HUD instrumentation for control, LiDAR/SONAR-based detection, airborne stations, air traffic control systemsGeneral Electric, Sony, Alphabet
Safran337Raytheon Technologies105
Navigation controlsThales265Honeywell66Flight path control, aircraft navigation, anti-collision manoeuvre, landing navigationQualcomm, Volkswagen, General Electric
Propulsion systems and HVACRaytheon Technologies1,200Raytheon Technologies661Transmission other electric/steam, aircraft HVAC, auxiliary power systems, thrust controlling arrangements, aircraft combustion engine, gas turbine designGeneral Electric, Siemens
Aircraft structural and wing designAirbus2,349Airbus577Aircraft wing design, mounting of propulsion systems, aircraft manufacturing/assembly, nozzle designs, aircraft component assembly, aircraft interiors, protection and safety equipment, aerodynamics, floor structures and insulations, storage compartments, aircraft exterior design, 3D printing/additive manufacturing of aircraft parts, aircraft maintenanceGeneral Electric, Siemens, HP
Boeing977Raytheon Technologies319
Raytheon Technologies654Safran301

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