Regional Aircraft Market Stabilizing; Long-Term Growth Projected

by Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

In our study “The Market for Regional Transport Aircraft,” Forecast International predicts that a total of 3,817 regional aircraft will be produced from 2016 through 2025.  This includes both regional jets and regional turboprop airliners.  The value of this production is estimated at $135.2 billion in constant 2016 U.S. dollars.

The regional aircraft market appears to be stabilizing after a period of several years of erratic swings in yearly production.  We are projecting that annual output will remain relatively flat in 2016 and 2017 at just over 340 units each year.  Our longer-term outlook, though, is more bullish, with annual production projected to reach more than 420 units by the year 2025.

This growth will be fueled by the production ramp-ups of such new regional jetliner models as the Bombardier CS100, the Embraer E2 family, and the Mitsubishi MRJ90.  Overall demand in the regional jet market is already moving toward larger-capacity aircraft, but the overall potential of the segment continues to be hampered by scope clause restrictions in the U.S. market.

With a minor exception for a few pre-existing 86-seaters flown by American Airlines partners, scope clauses at all three U.S. legacy carriers prohibit their regional partners from operating any aircraft larger than 76 seats.  Relaxation of the size and weight restrictions in U.S. scope clauses will have to wait until pilot contracts begin to come up for renewal or amendment toward the end of this decade.  The weight restriction is even more critical than the seating limit.  Aircraft are currently restricted to a maximum takeoff weight of 86,000 pounds.  While they can be configured with 76 seats, certain of the new jetliners now in development nevertheless exceed the 86,000-pound limit.

Even with the current scope clause restrictions in place, though, the market for 90-seat and larger regional jets is hardly moribund.  Regional jets of this size will be acquired in quantity by regional airlines unencumbered by scope clauses, low-fare carriers, and even major airlines.

Meanwhile, the persistence of low fuel prices has started to impact the turboprop market, softening demand for these fuel-efficient aircraft.  Oil prices have increased somewhat since early 2016, though, and can be expected to continue to gradually rise, thus helping to buoy this segment of the regional aircraft market.

Our new study also includes manufacturer market share projections.  Based on unit production, Embraer, ATR, Bombardier, and Mitsubishi are projected to be the leading regional aircraft manufacturers during the 2016-2025 forecast period.  Embraer is projected to build 959 regional jetliners during the timeframe.  ATR is expected to produce 783 regional turboprops.  Bombardier, which produces both jets and turboprops, is forecast to build 591 regional aircraft.  Mitsubishi is projected to produce 437 regional jets.

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The Forecast International Civil Aircraft service covers all facets of the fixed-wing commercial and private aviation industry. It includes more than 70 detailed reports, complete with production forecasts on individual civil aircraft families. Four Market Segment Analyses provide in-depth examination of the markets for Large Commercial Jet Transports, Regional Aircraft, Business Jets, and General Aviation/Utility Aircraft. Included in the reports are production forecasts, a Forecast Rationale detailing the basis for the forecast, the aircraft’s price range and technical specifications, a program history, and recent developments.Forecast FI Logo

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