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7 December 2023

At Smiths Group, aerospace is one of the four major sectors that our business serves. That’s why today, on International Civil Aviation Day, I am reflecting on all that the aerospace industry brings to our world, as well as the pioneering spirit that has driven Smiths to continue to innovate over the last one hundred years – and counting – of international air travel.

Indeed, at Smiths, our links to the sector go back a long way. Smiths technology helped support the first-ever transatlantic flight in 1919. Flying in a Vickers Vimy plane, aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown relied on Smiths instruments in the cockpit, as well as KLG (Smiths) spark plugs in the engines.

Overcoming many obstacles in the flight, the pair eventually completed the journey in just under 16 hours and were treated as heroes upon their arrival, being knighted just a few days later by King George V.

As for their plane, it is currently housed in the Science Museum in London, and is well worth a visit. Smiths also donated a further set of instruments to the museum, which were incorporated into a replica cockpit for the enjoyment of museum goers and classic plane enthusiasts alike.

Today, we continue our work in aviation and serve the sector across several significant areas of our business. This includes Flex-Tek's high-performance fluid and fuel management solutions for both engines and airframes; Smiths Detection scanning technology, a crucial feature of many major airports around the world, helping keep travellers safe and secure; and @Smiths Interconnect connectivity solutions which, among other things, enable the onboard WiFi taken for granted by passengers in most commercial flights today.

We are immensely proud of both our long history of innovation, and our ongoing work to serve the international aerospace sector. It was our forebears’ entrepreneurial spirit that drove the first international flight in their maiden voyage over 100 years ago, and it is Smiths pioneering technology today that continues to enable the c.1,400 transatlantic flights1 that cross the Atlantic Ocean every day. I am excited to see what we can achieve over the next one hundred years.

This is yet another reason that I am proud to be Smiths, every day.

Mike Stern, President of Smiths Group’s aerospace business

[1] Data sourced from the International Air Transport Association (AITA)

Vickers Vimy

Vickers Vimy plane in the Science Museum

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