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At the end of April, few programs had a larger backlog than at the start of 2017.
(The latest figures we have are to the end of April 2017.)

By the end of April there had been orders for 282 large commercial jet aircraft and 1,106 jet engines. In terms of aircraft, the intake was the lowest for the first four months of a year since 2010 but engines did better; slightly less than last year but more than by the end of April 2015. Aircraft and engine deliveries haven't exactly improved, there have been slightly fewer than last year, but the low order intake means that only seven aircraft and two engine programs have larger backlogs than at the start of the year.

At the end of April the aircraft backlog was lower than at the start of the year but the engine order book was larger, driven by an increase in the number of single-aisle engines. This is actually exactly what happened last year - the aircraft backlog was down but the engine order book was up, driven by single-aisle engines. The numbers are a bit different this time though. The aircraft backlog drop has been larger and the engine order book gain has been much smaller.

What is very different this year is that far fewer aircraft and engine programs had larger backlogs at the end of April than at the start of the year. A year ago it was a case of 11 aircraft programs and seven engine programs. This time it is seven aircraft programs and two engine programs. Of these, just one aircraft program, the 737 MAX, has had a reasonably large backlog gain and just one engine program, CFM LEAP, has had a very large order book gain. What is striking here is that the 737-800 has had the largest backlog fall and the CFM56-7BE has had the largest engine order book fall.

This is all to do with orders. Boeing has done well with more single-aisle and more widebody orders than by the end of April last year. Airbus has taken fewer orders for both single-aisles and widebodies.

Boeing has so far taken orders for 193 single-aisles and 38 widebodies. The single-aisle intake is 52 more than by the end of April last year and it is also over five times as many as Airbus. Boeing's widebody order intake is six aircraft more than by the end of April last year and more than double the Airbus widebody intake. The European manufacturer has taken orders for 37 single-aisles and 14 widebodies so far this year and in both segments this is Airbus' lowest order intake for the Jan-April period in years.

Airbus has had more deliveries this year than in the first four months of last year but the company's delivery numbers far exceed the order intake. Boeing, on the other hand, has had more orders than deliveries. Both manufacturers currently have smaller widebody backlogs than at the start of this year but only Boeing has a larger single-aisle backlog. It is up 26 aircraft on the start of the year while Airbus' single-aisle backlog at the end of April was 128 aircraft lower than at the start of the year.

 

The Aircraft Backlog: By the end of April just seven aircraft programs had larger backlogs than at the start of the year and the 737 MAX had the largest gain of all, up 109 aircraft. Six of the seven programs are Boeing aircraft and the A319 was the only Airbus program to have a gain. The 737-800A and the 767-2C both had gains of 15 aircraft, the 777F backlog was up two and the 737-700 and 737-900ER both had gains of one aircraft. The A319 backlog was up seven aircraft. Most programs had smaller backlogs at the end of May and these included all Airbus widebody programs as well as the 747 and 787. There were some programs with no backlog change at all and these were, for the most part, programs that have yet to start to deliver.

The Engine Order Book: While there were 246 more engines on firm order at the end of April than at the start of this year, only two engine programs ha larger order books. The CFMLEAO order book was up 690 engines and the PW4000 order book was up 30. The widebody engine order book dropped again in April and is now 152 engines lower than at the start of 2017. There are more single-aisle engines on firm order (+398 since the start of the year) but that is very much a function of the LEAP program's growth.

Aircraft and Engine Orders: The single-aisle aircraft order intake by the end of April was the lowest for the Jan-April period since 2011 and the widebody aircraft order intake was the lowest for the period since 2012. Airbus has had a very slow start to the year in terms of orders and has sold 37 single-aisles and 14 widebodies. Boeing's order intake is much larger; 193 single-aisles and 38 widebodies. The engine order intake is slightly lower than last year but does represent a gain on Jan-April 2015. What is important about the single-aisle engine intake this year is that it mostly involves orders for the LEAP engine (708), some for the CFM56 (286) and a few for the V2500. The widebody engine order intake this year is actually the lowest for the first four months of a year for several years.

Aircraft Deliveries and Engine Installs: By the end of April there had been one less aircraft delivery than at the same point last year but the total of 406 so far  is actually the lowest for the Jan-April period since 2013. The single-aisle aircraft total is the lowest for the first four months of a year since 2012 but the widebody total is an improvement on last year, although Boeing had fewer widebody deliveries and Airbus had more. The number of engine installs by the end of April was the lowest for the Jan-April period since 2013 but the single-aisle engine total, like single-aisle aircraft, was the lowest for the period since 2012. The widebody engine total was the lowest for Jan-April since 2013.

 

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Philip Abbott,
Editor & Publisher.