Disruptions Not Slowing Airbus, Boeing’s Narrowbody Demand

Disruptions Not Slowing Airbus, Boeing’s Narrowbody Demand

Almost two years after the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which is the biggest shock experienced by aircraft manufacturing in recent history, Airbus and Boeing are still in crisis mode to varying degrees. Building production rates back up has proven more complicated than expected for a variety of reasons. Making decisions even on near-term product development appears to be on the back burner for the time being, except at Embraer. And the coming year is likely to be full of more operational challenges that will absorb the attention of management.

Airbus and Boeing plan to rebuild narrowbody production
Boeing 787 quality issue resolution will drag on well into 2022
Airbus A321XLR flight-testing and A350F development work to kick off
Boeing: Quantity and Quality
As 2020 drew to a close, Boeing eagerly anticipated seeing its two most important commercial programs, the 737 and 787, getting back on track in 2021. The 737 MAX family was grounded in the wake of two fatal accidents, and deliveries had stopped in March 2019. Quality problems had halted 787 deliveries in the fall of 2020.
A year later, Boeing is largely in the same spot. The 737 MAX is flying again, but the company’s goal of wiping out a stored backlog of about 460 aircraft by 2023 is out of reach.

“As we go through the second half of the year and forward, I think that will be an assessment of the supply chain, not an assessment of demand, that gets us to whatever number we get to,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said.

With the 737 MAX program steadily gaining altitude, the 787 has assumed the spotlight as Boeing’s most troubled commercial program. Barring a major change as the year comes to a close, Boeing will end 2021 with just 14 787 deliveries—a figure that reflected an average month’s worth of customer handovers before the pandemic and production problems created intense headwinds.

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