The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Turbocharger compressors.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry

Turbocharger compressors is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence

A turbocharger compressor is a device that compresses air before it is injected into the cylinders of an engine. Turbocharger compressors are centrifugal compressors that are used in engines to raise the charge air pressure.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of turbocharger compressors.

Key players in turbocharger compressors – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to turbocharger compressors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Safran 151 Unlock company profile
General Electric 90 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 70 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 63 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 50 Unlock company profile
ABB 39 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 38 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 26 Unlock company profile
IHI 23 Unlock company profile
Raytheon Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
Otics 11 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 10 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 9 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 8 Unlock company profile
FountainVest Partners 7 Unlock company profile
Continental 7 Unlock company profile
Garrett Motion 6 Unlock company profile
Cummins 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Safran is one of the leading patent filers in turbocharger compressors. Safran and its subsidiaries have been filing numerous patents related to turbocharger compressors. Some other key patent filers in the industry include General Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and BorgWarner.

In terms of geographic reach, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries leads the pack. Honda Motor and Porsche Automobil stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of application diversity, Honda Motor held the top position, followed by Safran, ABB, Continental, and BorgWarner.

Turbocharger compressor development, when examined through the lens of patent filings, is being driven by industries that manufacturer and use engines – the aerospace and defence, and automotive industries being the most significant of these. Subsequently, filings are present from companies in both these industry groups.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.