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October 25, 2021updated 05 Nov 2021 5:01pm

Filings buzz in the aerospace and defence sector: 79% increase in artificial intelligence mentions in Q2 of 2021

Mentions of artificial intelligence within the filings of companies in the aerospace and defence sector rose 79% between the first and second quarters of 2021.

By Patrick Scott

In total, the frequency of sentences related to artificial intelligence between July 2020 and June 2021 was 218% increase than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When companies in the aerospace and defence sector publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Artificial intelligence is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether artificial intelligence is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of companies in the aerospace and defence sector, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned artificial intelligence at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 95% compared to 69% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to artificial intelligence.

Of the 20 biggest employers in the aerospace and defence sector, Leonardo SpA was the company that referred to artificial intelligence the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 35 artificial intelligence-related sentences in the Italy-based company's filings - 0.7% of all sentences. Rheinmetall AG mentioned artificial intelligence the second-most - the issue was referred to in 0.5% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high artificial intelligence mentions included Thales SA, Elbit Systems Ltd and BAE Systems Plc.

Across all companies in the aerospace and defence sector, the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on artificial intelligence came from CAE Inc. Of the document's 2,413 sentences, 39 (1.6%) referred to artificial intelligence.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on artificial intelligence and how important the issue is considered within the aerospace and defence sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning artificial intelligence more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into artificial intelligence have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises artificial intelligence mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'smart robots', which made up 78% of all artificial intelligence subtheme mentions by companies in the aerospace and defence sector.

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