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 name||EU grants||Industry||Country of origin|
|Safran||13,401||Aerospace and defence||France|
|GZBV (Airbus)||11,221||Aerospace and defence||Netherlands|
|Raytheon Technologies||10,779||Aerospace and defence||United States|
|Thales||7,380||Aerospace and defence||France|
|The Boeing Company||5,630||Aerospace and defence||United States|
|Rolls-Royce Holdings||3,915||Aerospace and defence||United Kingdom|
Table 2. Technology trends
|Top trends||Top players||Active grants||Top players 2019-2020||Active grants 2019-2020||Key areas||Other key players|
|Signalling and control||Airbus||961||Airbus||279||Aircraft 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 systems||General Electric, Sony, Alphabet|
|Navigation controls||Thales||265||Honeywell||66||Flight path control, aircraft navigation, anti-collision manoeuvre, landing navigation||Qualcomm, Volkswagen, General Electric|
|Propulsion systems and HVAC||Raytheon Technologies||1,200||Raytheon Technologies||661||Transmission other electric/steam, aircraft HVAC, auxiliary power systems, thrust controlling arrangements, aircraft combustion engine, gas turbine design||General Electric, Siemens|
|Aircraft structural and wing design||Airbus||2,349||Airbus||577||Aircraft 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 maintenance||General Electric, Siemens, HP|