Global aerospace giant Boeing has predicted that 42 730 new jet airliners, worth $6.3-trillion, will be needed to meet demand over the next 20 years. This forecast was unveiled in the group’s ‘Commercial Market Outlook’, released at the recent Farnborough International Airshow, in the UK. This figure is 4.1% higher than that given in the company’s previous forecast. With the addition of the existing aircraft that will still be in service at the end of this period, the global airliner fleet will total 48 540 in 2037 – effectively twice the size of the current fleet.
In parallel, over the same period, there will be strong growth – 4.2% a year – in the commercial aviation services sector, which includes maintenance and engineering, flight operations, and data and data analytics. For example, Boeing expects the market for maintenance and engineering to be worth $2.3-trillion and that for flight operations to total $1.1-trillion. Altogether, the services sector is expected to be worth $8.8-trillion over this period. This means that the total commercial aviation sector will offer a market worth $15-trillion.
“For the first time in years, we are seeing economies growing in every region of the world,” highlighted Boeing VP: commercial marketing Randy Tinseth. “This synchronised growth is providing more stimulus for global air travel. We are seeing strong traffic trends not only in the emerging markets of China and India but also in the mature markets of Europe and North America.”
The group expects demand for new single-aisle airliners (such as its 737) to total 31 360 over this period. This is a 6.1% increase, compared with Boeing’s forecast last year. These aircraft will represent a total value of $3.5-trillion. This market will be largely driven by the growth in low-cost carriers (budget airlines), rising demand in emerging markets, and growing replacement airliner markets in South-East Asia and China.
Regarding wide-body airliners, the company forecasts demand for 8 070 new aircraft, worth close to $2.5-trillion. The drivers of growth in this segment will be the need for a large number of aeroplanes to replace existing wide-bodies, and a switch to more advanced aircraft – such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and its 777X programme – to increase their worldwide networks.
In addition, Boeing expects demand for 980 new-build wide-body freighter aircraft during this period. This is 60 more than the group’s previous forecast. These will be complemented by 1 670 freighters converted from airliners.
“The commercial airplane business fuels an enormous ecosystem of service providers,” he emphasised. “We see a market in which airlines outsource more and more, a market in which data and data analytics help aircraft and airline networks become more efficient and reliable, and a market in which new technologies provide new services solutions. All these trends drive greater demand for integrated solutions over the life of an airplane.”
The Asia-Pacific region, including China, will be the main driver of demand for both aircraft and services. It will account for 40% of new aircraft deliveries and 38% of the total value of services. North America and Europe will also form part of the top three market regions.
“Along with continued traffic expansion, the data show a big retirement wave approaching as older airplanes age out of the global fleet,” pointed out Tinseth. Today, more than 900 airliners in service are more than 25 years old. By the middle of the next decade, more than 500 a year will reach the age of 25, which is twice the current rate. As a result, 44% of the demand for new aircraft will be to replace these ageing airliners.