Boeing Flexes Muscles and Delivers Record 91 Jets in One Month
by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.
Boeing and Airbus delivered 91 and 56 commercial jets in March 2018, respectively, compared to 74 and 62 deliveries during the same month last year. In 2017, Boeing delivered 763 jets (748 in 2016). in line with company expectations, while Airbus surpassed its delivery target of 700 jets by handing over 718 aircraft during 2017 (688 in 2016).
In March 2018, Boeing delivered 66 737s (of which 24 were 737 MAXs). well above the current monthly rate of 47 jets. The company also delivered one 747-8, one 767, eight 777s, and 15 787s. Boeing raised its 737 production rate to 47 per month in Q3 2017 from 42 previously and plans to increase it further to 52 during 2018. Boeing plans a further increase to 57 737s per month during 2019. On March 13, Boeing celebrated the 10,000th 737 delivery and shared some impressive figures: a 737 takes off or lands every 1.5 seconds and, on average, more than 2,800 737s are in the air at any given time. To date, 737s have transported 22 billion passengers and have flown more than 122 billion miles, the equivalent of 5 million times around Earth.
In March, Airbus delivered 45 A320s (31 ceo / 14 neo), five A330s, five A350s, and one A380. For most of 2017, Airbus struggled with late deliveries of PW1100G PurePower Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines from Pratt & Whitney for the A320neo family of aircraft, but was able to finish the year on a high note. A total of 181 A320neo family aircraft were delivered in 2017 vs. Airbus’ forecast of 200, up from 68 during 2016. To date, across all aircraft variants, the company is trailing last year’s delivery figures by 15 jets and only delivered 121 aircraft in the first quarter of the year. In Q1 2017, Airbus delivered 136 jets or 19 percent of the 718 aircraft total for the year. The company has announced it expects to deliver 800 jets this year; however, only 15 percent of that total was shipped in Q1, so clearly, Airbus has some serious catching up to do.
Airbus plans to deliver up to 120 A350s (all variants) in 2018 when the production rate hits 10 per month. Airbus is considering a further increase to 13 A350s per month in 2019. On February 20, 2018, Airbus delivered the world’s first A350-1000 widebody airliner, to launch customer Qatar Airways. Furthermore, on February 28, Airbus rolled out the first A350-900 ultra-long-range variant. The ramp-up of A350 XWB deliveries combined with a higher A320 production rate means that the company is narrowing Boeing’s deliveries lead and could surpass its top rival by 2019 or 2020. By mid-2019, Airbus expects to be delivering 60 A320 jets per month. In December 2017, former Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier even indicated that there is enough demand for Airbus to be producing as many as 70 A320 jets per month. The company has internally been debating rates beyond 60 for some time now.
In March, Boeing logged a whopping 255 gross orders (minus 34 cancellations => net of 221). Boeing’s March bookings included two major 737 MAX orders, one for 75 jets for Jet Airways and another for 73 jets for an undisclosed customer. On March 10, Turkish Airlines placed an order for 25 787-9 Dreamliners, with options for five additional aircraft. The order was first announced as a commitment last September. With this order, Turkish Airlines becomes the 71st customer for the Dreamliner, and more than 1,300 of the jets have now been ordered, making the 787 the fastest-selling twin-aisle airplane in Boeing’s history.
Airbus’ March bookings were very slim, with only eight gross orders (minus six cancellations => net of two). Despite being well behind Boeing in this year’s orders race, Airbus has retained an orders lead over its rival every year since 2012. In 2017, just as Boeing looked set to win the orders race, Airbus finished the year on a very high note and reported a full-year intake of 1,109 net new orders, ahead of Boeing’s 912.
Airbus’ order backlog as of March 31 stands at 7,189 jets (of which 6,083, or 85%, are A320ceo/neo family narrowbodies), ahead of Boeing’s backlog of 5,901 aircraft (of which 4,707, or 80%, are 737 NG/MAX narrowbody jets). Boeing’s backlog set a new all-time high in March, surpassing the previous record of 5,864 jets set in December 2017. Airbus is 75 jets below its all-time record backlog of 7,265 – also set in December 2017. The number of Airbus aircraft to be built and delivered represents a 10-year backlog at the 2017 production level. In comparison, Boeing’s backlog would “only” last 7.7 years. Airbus booked 1,109 net new orders in 2017, resulting in a book-to-bill ratio of 1.54. Boeing booked 912 net new orders in 2017, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.20. In 2018 to date, Boeing boasts a book-to-bill ratio of 1.20, with Airbus at 0.37.
Forecast International’s Platinum Forecast System® is a breakthrough in forecasting technology. Among many other features, Platinum provides 15-year production forecasts. The author has used the Platinum Forecast System to retrieve the latest delivery forecasts. For 2018, Forecast International’s analysts expect Boeing and Airbus to deliver 803 and 784 large commercial jets, respectively. These are the latest “live” forecast figures (adjusted frequently by FI analysts as new information comes in). These figures exclude militarized variants of commercial platforms such as Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, KC-46 tanker and C-40 Clipper and Airbus’ A330 MRTT tanker.
In late January 2018, Boeing reported that it expects to deliver 810-815 commercial aircraft during 2018 (including militarized variants of commercial jets). On February 15, 2018, Airbus announced that it expects to deliver around 800 commercial jets this year (including militarized variants of commercial jets), but at the same time emphasized that its projections depend on engine manufacturers meeting commitments.
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