Manufacturers ramp up aircraft production to meet market demand
Boeing has projected exponential growth for aviation industry in the years to come, estimating that the market for new planes will be worth a whopping $4 trillion by 2030. A large percentage of this increase is attributable to freighters, with Boeing forecasting that worldwide demand for these aircraft will jump from 1,760 to 3,500 airplanes.
Of all markets, Boeing sees the most opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, estimating that it will require 11,450 new planes by 2030. Closely tied for second place are Europe and North America, with the aircraft manufacturer forecasting that these regions will necessitate 7,550 and 7,530 new planes, respectively. Boeing also projects continued growth in Latin America and the Middle East, predicting that these markets will demand a respective 2,570 and 2,520 new aircraft.
After all, said Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth, “The world market has recovered and is now expanding at a significant rate. Not only is there a strong demand for air travel and new airplanes today, but the fundamental drivers of air travel — including economic growth, world trade and liberalization — all point to a healthy long-term demand.”
To meet this anticipated demand, Boeing will begin manufacturing 42 Next-Generation 737s per month in 2014. The company currently maintains a monthly production rate of 31.5 airplanes, although it plans to up this number to 35 in early 2012.
“Customers are demanding our Next-Generation 737 at an unprecedented rate," said Boeing President and CEO Jim Albaugh in a statement. “New performance improvements and enhanced passenger comfort features have driven home the value equation for our customers.”
Once the production rate has fully increased, Boeing aspires to manufacture two 737s per workday. This would translate to nearly 500 aircraft each year.
Still, 737 Program Vice President and General Manager Beverly Wyse is quick to point out that quality won’t be compromised with the increased quantity. “We have worked very closely with our supply chain and our world-class manufacturing team to ensure we can increase rate in an efficient and responsible fashion,” she said in a statement. “We are very well situated for this rate increase.”
Boeing isn’t the only aircraft manufacturer ramping up its production schedule to address increased demand. Competitor Airbus previously announced that it will increase production of its A320 fleet of aircraft from 36 to 42 per month in the fourth quarter of 2012. Cebu Pacific of the Philippines recently extended its existing options to order seven A320s in addition to its original order of four craft. The carrier is also ordering 30 A321neo planes.
This increase in Airbus’ passenger-plane manufacturing has a huge drawback for cargo operators: The increased production effectively ended Airbus' A320 freighter conversion program.
Like members of Boeing’s executive team, Tom Williams, executive vice president of programs at Airbus, believes this jump in productivity will have strong implications for his company.
“The low operating costs and high dispatch reliability offered by the A320 family make it the bestseller in its market,” Williams said in a statement. “With a backlog of over 2,300 A320 family aircraft to deliver, we need to increase production to accommodate continuing strong customer demand for these new eco-efficient aircraft.”