Both companies report no new orders in September as Boeing decides to move all 787 production to South Carolina in 2021
by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.
Boeing and Airbus delivered 11 and 57 commercial jets in September 2020, compared to 26 and 71 deliveries, respectively, in the same month last year. With just 98 deliveries this year to date, Boeing is 204 shipments behind last year’s total for the first three quarters of the year. Airbus delivered a total of 341 jets from January to September, compared to 571 during the same period last year. Boeing’s deliveries have suffered for many months in the aftermath of two 737 MAX crashes and the subsequent suspension of deliveries and grounding of the fleet. Deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft have been on hold since March 2019. Due to COVID-19, both manufacturers were forced to temporarily close down production facilities and have also laid off thousands of employees and announced significant production rate cuts on most programs. For the full year 2019, Boeing delivered 380 aircraft, while Airbus set a new all-time annual record, handing over 863 jets. Prior to this, Boeing had retained a deliveries lead over Airbus since 2012. In 2018, Boeing delivered 806 jets (763 in 2017), with Airbus handing over 800 (718 in 2017).
In September, Boeing’s 11 aircraft shipments included one 737NG, one 747-8, one 767, one 777, and seven 787s. Production of the 737 MAX was suspended from January this year until the end of May. On May 27, Boeing announced it had resumed production of the 737 MAX in Renton. Aircraft are being built at a low rate. Boeing expects the 737 MAX production rate to gradually increase to 31 per month by the beginning of 2022, with further increases as market demand allows. Boeing has also announced that the 787 production rate is being reduced from 14 per month (rate at the start of the year) to just six per month during 2021. On October 1, Boeing announced it will be moving all 787 production to South Carolina in 2021. The combined 777/777X production rate will be reduced to two per month in 2021. Production rate assumptions have not changed for the 747 and 767 programs. Prior to the 737 MAX production suspension, Boeing was manufacturing the jet at a reduced rate of 42 per month. The company has built about 450 737 MAX jets during the grounding and is targeting delivery of more than half of those in the first 12 months following recertification. While the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly stated that it has no timetable for the aircraft’s return to service, the 737 MAX is expected to remain grounded at least until November. In any case, it will be several years before Boeing is able to hit the originally planned monthly production rate of 57 aircraft. Prior to the suspension of deliveries in March 2019, Boeing had produced and shipped 387 737 MAX jets.
According to statements made by Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the 737 MAX could receive regulatory approval to return to flying in November and re-enter service by the end of the year. On October 6, the FAA posted the draft Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report on the proposed pilot training for the 737 MAX, which incorporates the recommendations from the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB). Several key milestones remain: the Final Design Documentation and Technical Advisory Board (TAB) Report, the Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) & AD, a rescission by the FAA of the Grounding Order, the issuance by the FAA of airworthiness certificates and export certificates, and the review and approval of Operator Training Programs.
In September, Airbus delivered 57 jets, including 43 A320s (1 CEO / 42 NEO), five A220s, two A330s and seven A350s. Prior to COVID-19, Airbus was targeting a 5 percent A320 rate increase to 63 jets per month from 2021, and was also discussing a further ramp-up with its supply chain that could have brought the production rate up to as high as 67 aircraft per month, or 804 per year, by 2023. This would have put the company within reach of 1,000 jet deliveries per year. These plans have now been shelved. For the full year 2019, Airbus handed over 642 A320 family aircraft, of which 551 were NEOs, while also delivering a record 112 A350s.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbus has cut production on several programs and is looking to hold underlying jet output at 40 percent below pre-pandemic plans for two years. The A320 production rate has been reduced to 40 aircraft per month, down from an average of over 53 aircraft per month in 2019. The A330 and A350 programs are reduced to a rate of two and six aircraft per month, respectively. No rate cut has been announced for the A220 or A380. On June 30, Airbus announced it plans to cut 14,000 jobs (5,000 in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the U.K. and 1,300 elsewhere) as it deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. In the meantime, by the end of the year, Boeing expects to have reduced its global workforce by 10 percent, or 16,000 employees. In the U.S., 12,300 jobs will be cut, including nearly 10,000 in Washington alone. Recently, Boeing carried out a second round of layoffs involving an additional 1,030 employees that left the company by the end of August. In connection with the release of the company’s second-quarter earnings on July 29, Boeing announced that further job cuts are being considered and a second round of voluntary layoffs will be offered. Boeing will report Q3 earnings on October 28, followed by Airbus’ report the day after.
Turning to the orders race, in September, Boeing booked no new orders but received three 737 MAX cancellations. Year-to-date, Boeing has accumulated 67 gross orders (448 cancellations => -381 net new orders). For the full year 2019, Boeing booked 243 gross orders (330 cancellations => -87 net new orders). For the full year 2018, Boeing booked 893 net new orders and 1,008 gross orders.
In September, Airbus received no new orders and reported three A220 cancellations. For 2020 to date, Airbus has accumulated 370 gross orders (70 cancellations => net of 300). For the full year 2019, Airbus landed 1,131 gross orders (363 cancellations => net of 768), thereby retaking the orders crown from Boeing. In 2018, Airbus booked a total of 747 net new orders and 831 gross orders, thereby losing the 2018 orders race. Prior to this, Airbus had retained an orders lead over its rival every year since 2012.
At the end of September, Airbus reported a backlog of 7,441 jets of which 6,564, or 88 percent, were A220 and A320ceo/neo family narrowbodies. This is 284 aircraft below the company’s all-time backlog record of 7,725 aircraft set in January 2020. By the end of August 2020, Boeing’s backlog (total unfilled orders before ASC 606 adjustment) was 5,146 aircraft, of which 4,160, or 81 percent, were 737 NG/MAX narrowbody jets. Boeing’s all-time backlog high of 5,964 aircraft was set in August 2018. The number of Airbus aircraft to be built and delivered represents 8.6 years of shipments at the 2019 production level. In comparison, Boeing’s backlog would “only” last 6.4 years at the 2018 level, which we use as proxy for 2019 due to the severe drop in 737 MAX deliveries. This year to date, Boeing’s book-to-bill ratio, calculated as net new orders divided by deliveries, is negative due to cancellations exceeding gross orders. Airbus’ book-to-bill ratio is 0.88. In 2019, Boeing’s book-to-bill ratio was negative, while Airbus reported a book-to-bill of 0.89.
Forecast International’s Platinum Forecast System is a breakthrough in forecasting technology that provides 15-year production forecasts. The author has used the Platinum Forecast System to retrieve the latest delivery forecasts and, for 2020, Forecast International’s analysts currently expect Boeing and Airbus to deliver 218 and 480 commercial jets, respectively.
Note: Boeing 777-300ER orders include one 777-200LR. The 777-300ER backlog includes two 777-200LRs.
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Based in Denmark, Joakim Kasper Oestergaard is Forecast International’s AeroWeb and PowerWeb Webmaster and European Editor. In 2008, he came up with the idea for what would eventually evolve into AeroWeb. Mr. Oestergaard is an expert in aerospace & defense market intelligence, fuel efficiency in civil aviation, defense spending and defense programs. He has an affiliation with Terma Aerostructures A/S in Denmark – a leading manufacturer of composite and metal aerostructures for the F-35 Lightning II. Mr. Oestergaard has a Master’s Degree in Finance and International Business from the Aarhus School of Business – Aarhus University in Denmark.