As we get ready for the upcoming Paris show, both the big duopolies are doing their pre-show briefings. Typically the briefings focus on impending orders and what’s coming in terms of product innovation. The future is always more exciting, even if it doesn’t always pan out. But orders for future products do result, eventually, into deliveries, the more realistic metric of what is actually coming out of production line and entering service.
Orders are not unimportant, as they measure the success of programs, and set expectations around the industry for the success, or lack thereof, of an aircraft program. In the 1990s, Boeing won the majority of the orders between the two competitors, and led in deliveries from 1989-2002. Since then Airbus won the orders battle in most years, and was winning the delivery battle through 2011. But Boeing has out-delivered Airbus in recent years, increasing its narrow-body production rate – so winning the order battle doesn’t always mean you win the production battle in the short-term.
With that said, let’s take a look at what has actually transpired since the year 1974, examining actual aircraft deliveries. The following charts split deliveries into single-aisle and twin-aisle categories.
In Airbus presentations they focus on how consistent and reliable they are as a vendor by showing their delivery chart. Orders by nature are subject to greater cycles. Boeing’s deliveries have seen a larger degree of variance over the period. Does this suggest anything odd?
To get another perspective look at the actual delivery numbers as shown below.
Airbus has indeed delivered to what appears to be a more reliable rate. Or perhaps consistent rate is a better way of saying it. Boeing’s deliveries have lagged those at Airbus for a number of years but eclipsed Airbus in 2014. If we exclude freighters, Airbus has delivered more twin aisle aircraft than Boeing. Freighters are a distinct strength for Boeing and a weakness at Airbus.
As we get ready for the onslaught of positive news at the show about how the future has no sunset, clouds or rain, know that after the news fades it is deliveries that confirms how the order news plays out. Starting from a low base, Airbus has shown very consistent growth over its history. Over the same time frame, Boeing has also shown growth, but larger volatility. Will we see additional orders, or few orders at Paris leading to more volatility. Time, and the show, will tell.