* H1 pretax profit 146.2 mln stg vs 116.2 mln stg
* H1 revenues 649.8 mln stg vs 549.7 mln stg
* Dividend 3.20 pence vs 2.85 pence (Adds CEO and analyst comment, details, updates shares)
By Rhys Jones
LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - British aircraft parts supplier Meggitt posted a better than expected 26 percent rise in first-half profit and raised growth forecasts at its key civil aerospace unit as demand for commerical aircraft rises.
Meggitt, which supplies flight displays and wheels to planemakers Airbus and Boeing , on Tuesday reported an underlying pretax profit of 146.2 million pounds ($237.7 million), ahead of analysts' 135 million pounds consensus forecast, on revenues 18 percent higher at 649.8 million pounds for the six months to the end of June.
Its civil aerospace unit, which accounts for 45 percent of group revenue, saw sales grow 18 percent to 267.2 million pounds.
"A good chunk of the civil growth is to do with the production of new aircraft but we also expect to see a recovery in the business and regional jet market so we expect equipment deliveries to rise in the next couple of years," Meggitt's Chief Executive Terry Twigger told Reuters.
"That growth is underpinned by a very nice recovery in the civil aftermarket - sales of spares and repairs - too."
Commercial aircraft demand is picking up as air travel recovers and funds return to the leasing market. Soaring oil prices, meanwhile, are forcing airlines to renew fleets with more fuel-efficient planes. As such, Boeing and Airbus have both increased production rates in recent months.
Meggitt said that it expects revenues from civil aerospace equipment to grow by up to 8 percent a year until 2015, helped by strong growth in business jets and programmes on large aircraft, including the Boeing 787, Airbus' A350 and Bombardier (BBDb.TO) CSeries.
Shares in Meggitt, which have risen 8 percent in the last three months, were 0.6 percent up at 387.6 pence by 0735 GMT, valuing the company at around 3 billion pounds.
"We think Meggitt's management is executing very well, both capturing the end-market growth and also focusing on continuous restructuring," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Celine Fornaro, who rates the stock a 'buy'.
Meggitt, which earlier this year acquired Danaher's component business PacSci for $685 million, raised its interim dividend by 12 percent to 3.20 pence per share.
British aerospace companies have been hit by uncertainty about the future path of UK and U.S. defence expenditure, both of which have seen a slowdown in recent months.
However, Meggitt, which also announced this week a $190 million wheel and brake improvement contract with the U.S. Air Force, said its military division would likely deliver growth of around 2 percent a year in the coming years.
"We're relatively well placed because a lot of our military business comes from the sale of spares and repairs and we're on some pretty established programmes that are well suited for retrofit," said Twigger.
British aero engineer Senior on Monday posted a 17 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by Airbus and Boeing's production ramp-up.
$1 = 0.615 British Pounds Editing by Paul Hoskins and Andrew Callus