The Industry today

The Industry today
Latest issue
Sample pages

It is already a record year for some manufacturers.
(The latest figures we have are to the end of November.)

By the end of November, Boeing had delivered 647 new commercial jets. The company's 2013 total was 648 deliveries. There have already been exactly the same number of 737 deliveries as in the whole of last year, and 31 more Dreamliner deliveries. For Rolls-Royce, it is already a record production year with 24 more engine installs than in the previous record year. CFM needs just six installs in December to also have a record production year.

At first glance the overall delivery figures look quite promising. By the end of November there had been 1,201 new aircraft deliveries, 73 fewer than in the whole of 2013. With monthly deliveries averaging 117 per month for the last three months, a new annual production record is a certainty. However, Airbus has so far delivered 554 new aircraft, eight fewer than in the same period last year and the European manufacturer will need 72 deliveries in December just to match the 2013 total. Airbus has actually delivered 72 aircraft in a single month once before, in December 2012, so it is quite possible that there will be a similar number, or more, this year. What is interesting about the Airbus figures is that there have already been 30 more A321 deliveries than in the whole of last year but there have also been 77 fewer A320 deliveries than in the whole of last year; December deliveries will positively change that number.

The trend to slightly larger single-aisle aircraft is plain to see. By the end of November Airbus had delivered seven fewer A319s, 43 fewer A320s but 42 more A321s than in the same period last year. Boeing had delivered 34 more 737-800s, four more 737-800As and six more 737-900ERs. So far there have been 876 single-aisle deliveries, 57 short of the 2013 total, but the average monthly delivery figure over the last three months has been 85 and the December figure is usually the best in the year.

There had also been 325 widebody deliveries by the end of November, 16 short of the 2013 total. 2014 will be a good year for widebody deliveries and in particular for the 787 program which, at the end of November, had delivered 42 more than in the same period last year. Widebody deliveries have averaged 32 per month for the past three months so a record production year can be expected, even if it is more of a Boeing achievement.

Because there have been 33 more single-aisle aircraft deliveries and 26 more widebody aircraft deliveries than in the same period last year, there have also been more new engine installs. The total of 2,484 by the end of November is made up of 1,752 single-aisle engines (up 66) and 732 widebody engines (up 54). In overall terms the engine manufacturers would seem to be having a good year. In the single-aisle segment, CFM has so far had 1,428 new engine installs, 142 more than in the period to the end of November last year. P&W's V2500 program, however, has had 324 new engine installs, 76 fewer than at the same point last year. There have also been fewer PW4000 installs this year.

The increase in the number of widebody engine installs is largely due to Rolls-Royce with 44 more than in the same period last year. While there have been exactly the same number of Trent 900 installs as in the same period last year, there have been 16 more Trent 700 installs and 28 more Trent 1000 installs. The Engine Alliance has had 12 more installs so far this year and GE has had 22 more. There have been 188 GEnx installs this year, 48 more than in the same period last year.

In addition to various production records this year, the aircraft and engine manufacturers are also looking at enormous backlog growth. There are now 12,488 large commercial jets on backlog order, up nearly 1,200 on the figure at the start of the year, and just over 21,700 large civil jet engines, over 1,900 more than at the start of the year. It has been a remarkable year so far in terms of the order intake; 502 aircraft and 754 engines were firm ordered in November alone.

The total order intake between the start of the year and the end of November amounts to 2,797 aircraft and 5,314 engines. Airbus now has over 6,000 aircraft on firm backlog order. Boeing has slightly less but has had a much larger backlog increase than the European manufacturer. Airbus has taken gross orders for 1,328 aircraft; Boeing has taken gross orders for 48 more. Airbus has had nearly 300 cancellations and Boeing has had just over 100. As a consequence of this, Boeing's net order position is much larger than that of Airbus.

Oddly, Airbus and Boeing have had remarkably similar single-aisle backlog gains this year, but very different widebody changes. The A320 Family backlog has increased by 534 aircraft and the 737 program's backlog has grown by 538 aircraft. The CSeries backlog is up 61 to 243 aircraft and the C919 backlog is up 30, to 350 aircraft.

Airbus has had a somewhat difficult year so far with widebodies, taking orders for 155 by the end of November, or roughly half the Boeing total. Cancellations have also taken a toll. Boeing had 1,485 widebodies on order at the end of the month which translates into 55% of the widebody backlog. Boeing's widebody backlog increase so far this year has been 85 aircraft. The Airbus widebody backlog has dropped by 57 aircraft. Over the last 12 months (to the end of November) the Boeing widebody backlog has increased by 111 aircraft while Airbus' has fallen by one.

While the aircraft manufacturers, with the exception of the Russian Irkut, have larger backlogs than at the start of this year, it is not quite the same sort of picture when it comes to the engine manufacturers. CFM has taken orders for 3,770 engines this year - 70% of all engines ordered including widebodies - and the LEAP program now has just over 8,000 engines on firm order. CFM has over 12,800 engines on firm order, up nearly 1,900 on the figure at the start of this year. The only other manufacturer to currently have a larger order book than at the start of the year is GE, up 280 engines which is mostly because of orders for the GE9X.

The problem CFM has is how much extra capacity to add in order to smoothly transition from CFM56 production to LEAP production in a relatively short period of time. The original plan called for a four-year transition period starting in 2015. By 2019, CFM56 production was to have dwindled to a small number of replacement and spare engines. The trouble is that while the LEAP program takes more orders than any other engine program - 2,556 have been ordered so far this year - customers are still ordering the CFM56 in large numbers; over 1,200 have been ordered this year.

December is usually a good month for aircraft and engine orders. The year could finish with record backlog numbers. Then there will be the problem of how to produce all those aircraft and jet engines.

Click on Sample Pages to get a 17-page sample of a recent issue.

Take a look at the Latest Issue page - you can download the cover and contents pages of some recent back issues.

Philip Abbott,
Editor & Publisher.