The Industry today

The Industry today
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A record number of deliveries in August, plus a new backlog high.
(The latest figures we have are to the end of August 2016.)

The August delivery total was significantly larger than the July total and much larger than the figure in August last year. It was a new record for the month of August though there have been three other months this year with higher delivery numbers. Because the order intake exceeded deliveries, there is a new aircraft backlog record, and a new single-aisle aircraft backlog record. The number of widebodies on firm backlog order has dropped again.

Just because the large commercial jet aircraft backlog is so large - over 13,400 aircraft at the end of August - it doesn't follow that production is increasing to meet demand. Production rates are increasing very slowly, and far too slowly for some airline customers. But had Airbus and Boeing not said, at the start of the year, that production this year would be pretty similar to that of 2015, the industry might have been wondering why, at the end of August (two thirds of the way through the year) there had actually been fewer new aircraft deliveries than by the end of August last year.

There were 121 new aircraft deliveries in August which is a new record for the month. It does point to rising Second Half delivery numbers but the fact is that by the end of the month Airbus had delivered three more aircraft than by the end of August last year and Boeing had delivered 12 fewer. Airbus plans to deliver slightly more aircraft this year than last year and Boeing plans to deliver slightly fewer so, in overall terms, deliveries to date seem to fit with what the manufacturers have been saying all along.

The catch here is that the mix doesn't seem to fit the plan. Airbus has now delivered 12 more single-aisles than at the same time last year, and nine fewer widebodies. The European manufacturer has delivered more single-aisles so far this year than in the same eight month period of any previous year. That is encouraging, but the guideline is for a very similar number of single-aisle deliveries this year as in 2015. Airbus' increase in total numbers is expected to come from a larger number of widebody deliveries. One big surprise in this context is that, by the end of August, Airbus had delivered 24 more A321s than in the same period last year though the number of A320ceo deliveries is down. It is worth mentioning here that in August, Airbus delivered 26 A321s (a new monthly high) and six A350-900s (also a new monthly high).

Airbus has also delivered 37 A330s so far this year, 24 fewer than by the end of August last year. There has been no change to the number of A330-200F deliveries (two so far) but there have been eight fewer A330-200 deliveries and 16 fewer A330-300 deliveries. There were 14 A350 deliveries in 2015 and there have been 21 so far this year. There have also been two fewer A380 deliveries this year.

Boeing has so far delivered 322 single-aisles, two less than by the end of August last year, and 169 widebodies, 10 fewer than last year. Boeing's guideline is for 12 fewer 737 deliveries, and five fewer widebody deliveries than last year.

Deliveries of the 737-800 are up, by 18, but there have been 22 fewer 737-900ER deliveries this year. Deliveries of the 747-8 have dropped from eight to three but there has been no change to the number of 747-8F deliveries (three this year). Deliveries of the 767-300F have dropped from 12 to eight but deliveries of the 777-300ER have increased by four. Boeing's biggest change involves the 787; there have been 28 fewer 787-8 deliveries than by the end of August last year, but 30 more 787-9 deliveries.

Bombardier has now delivered two CSeries jets and will deliver seven this year, not 15.

There are, of course, four months to go before the end of this year and some adjustment to the delivery mix is likely during that period. However, judging by the larger changes so far this year, it would appear that there will be far more A321 and A350-900 deliveries this year than in 2015, as well as more 737-800 and 787-9 deliveries. But, by the same token, there will be fewer deliveries from some other minor programs such as the A320ceo and 787-8.

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Philip Abbott,
Editor & Publisher.