CUSTOMS and safety changes after Brexit could send the aerospace sector into a tailspin, MPs say.

Divergence from global standards would be “utterly self-defeating”, with no trade-off between close harmonisation with the EU and access to markets beyond, according to Westminster’s cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee as it calls for a continuity pledge.

Around 114,000 people are directly employed by the industry throughout the UK, including at major employers Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Bombardier, GKN and Leonardo Helicopters.

More than 7600 of these posts are based in Scotland, according to data published earlier this year.

The committee’s report, published today, concludes there are “substantial growth opportunities” outwith the EU to come, with estimates suggesting as many as 34,000 new aircraft could be delivered worldwide by 2036.

But leaving the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) could jeopardise the ability of British-based firms to capitalise on the forecast global demand, the report claims.

MPs warned a “no deal” exit from EASA would harm the industry, worth seven per cent of overall manufacturing output, stating: “The government should now rule out leaving EASA to ensure the UK aerospace industry has the best possible chance of success post-Brexit.”

Non-tariff barriers were found to be a “significant” concern to the sector, with border delays of just a few hours – triggered by Brexit – said to have the potential to reduce competitiveness.

In November the ADS trade organisation, which represents 1000 members, said extra checks at the future UK-EU border could cause costs to rise by £1.5 billion a year.

Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “The aerospace sector is one of the most productive and fastest growing in the UK but this success is highly dependent on participation in European and global supply chains.

“The health of the industry relies on components moving quickly across borders with delays of even a few hours having a significant impact on costs.

“Given this, the government must ensure custom procedures are kept to an absolute minimum after we leave the EU.”

In January ADS claimed aerospace is worth almost £2bn in Scotland alone. As many as 80 different companies are involved in the industry and chief executive Paul Everitt credited the sector with “spreading prosperity and creating high value jobs”.

These include positions at the Rolls-Royce base at Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, and at Leonardo Helicopters in Edinburgh.

The sector is a significant beneficiary of EU funding and the committee says the UK must maintain its membership of high-value research programmes.

Reeves said: “In a truly global industry, membership of EASA gives the UK access to markets across the world through internationally recognised safety standards. Leaving would be completely counter-productive and leave the aerospace industry facing total chaos.”

The Labour MP continued: “The committee has now examined the impact of Brexit on three key sectors of the UK economy, the automotive and civil nuclear sector and now aerospace, and the lessons are similar each time – the best way forward for jobs and businesses lies in alignment, harmonisation and participation in EU supply chains and regulatory bodies.”