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Boeing and Airbus Can't Make Enough Airplanes To Keep Up With Demand (axios.com) 170

From a report on Axios: Aerospace manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus cannot produce airplanes fast enough to meet demand despite what the Wall Street Journal calls "one of the industry's steepest production increases since World War II." The run up in demand is partially the result of fast-growing airline industries in the Middle East and China. Manufacturers will need to increase production by 30% to meet current orders, and such booming demand is one sign of a healthier global economy.
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Boeing and Airbus Can't Make Enough Airplanes To Keep Up With Demand

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  • There's a huge waiting list to buy their new G600 long-range luxury jet.

    I thought about buying one but decided to get a used 757 instead... but no tacky gold letters

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      but no tacky gold letters

      Must not've been a used aircraft formerly of the commander-in-chief's private fleet...

  • by kubajz ( 964091 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:48PM (#53925349)
    That is interesting. One would expect, if this is the case, that the manufacturers would increase prices until there are only so many interested buyers that the whole production will be sold. What am I missing?
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:54PM (#53925401)

      Long leed times and a historic boom/bust cycle. Large airplanes are contracted years ahead of time. Keeping the line running is paramount. Start/stop is a company and/or model killer.

    • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:56PM (#53925415) Homepage

      There's competition in the airline industry (Boeing, Airbus being two big players) so they can't do that.

      If Boeing raises prices, customers will to go Airbus. And vice versa.

      If anything they may even LOWER prices to retain customers as waiting lists get longer. "Sure, you have to wait longer for your aircraft but you save 20% going with us over Airbus!"

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Your last point weighs heavy. If the manfuacturers try to follow a true market-will-bear price point for any given moment then they'll find that other players like Embrear might seek to develop competing widebody aircraft, or companies like BAe might fork from Airbus to resume designing and building widebodies independent of Airbus, or even various Russian or Post-Soviet Commonwealth aircraft manufacturers might seek to increase marketshare.

        With all of these factors, the market-will-bear price point is
    • The main thing preventing significant price increases as you suggest is the threat of competition. Canadair and Embraer have more than enough expertise making good sized regional size planes to jump into the larger plane market if the prices go high enough to justify the development costs. Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Dassault are even more players who could cut in on the action for the right price increase.

      • What's the lead time on a new airplane design?

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          Do you mean estimated or actual? Because (at least with Boeing) you can count on tacking on a couple of years.

          • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @04:15PM (#53925557)

            Boeing still does much better than new entrants have. See the Japanese and Chinese efforts to make their own wide bodies.

            I'm surprised Tupolev isn't trying to get a bigger slice. But first they have to get competitive on fuel costs.

            Nobody is turning on a dime and jumping into the market.

            • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
              Tupolev's Construction Bureau doesn't really exist anymore. The Russian civilian air companies were merged into United Aircraft Corporation and its currently produced airplanes are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

              Sukhoi Superjet is OK - it's not exactly top of the line in all parameters but it's a solid airplane, competitive in some markets. Its next model (slated for 2020) is going to be more much interesting and it probably will be able to compete with Boeing dir
              • Dunno about that. It looks to me like UAC is kind of like an umbrella company on top of the old structure and that the old structure is still pretty much in place.

        • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ecirpdrahcir)> on Friday February 24, 2017 @05:20PM (#53926053)

          Boeing 787 was around a decade from initial "what can we do" to entry into service - the Airbus A350XWB was a little more at 11 years.

          Neither manufacturer has a clean sheet design in the pipeline right now, so we probably wont see a new widebody until at least the 2030s.

          • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @06:43PM (#53926537)

            Boeing 787 was around a decade from initial "what can we do" to entry into service - the Airbus A350XWB was a little more at 11 years.

            Neither manufacturer has a clean sheet design in the pipeline right now, so we probably wont see a new widebody until at least the 2030s.

            According to this Boeing functionary I talked to it is easier to simply upgrade the tail section or the wings (or just parts of the wings and tail) and re-engine an existing aircraft design than to build a new design from scratch because that way you only have to get the new components certified. The fuselage pretty much does as good a job now as it did in the 1960s and 70s so you don't have to get that re-certified/tested/whatever only what you upgrade. That's why they are still building Boeing 737s, a design that first flew in 1967. Over the years they have upgraded various bits and pieces of the 737 until the modern aircraft have fairly little in common with the first 737s. This may seem weird, it did to me, but it's apparently a damn sight cheaper to do these bit by bit upgrades than designing a whole new aircraft to fill the same market slot. Designing building and getting a new design tested/certified/etc. only makes sense if nothing in your current inventory fits the market slot you have in mind or if the new design very significantly improves performance and therefore marketability.

      • I'm not so sure. Firstly the price would have to increase significantly and then you'd have to find investors happy to wait 20 years for a return. The Russians can already build pretty good airliners, but they are a long way from being competitive with Boeing or Airbus. There is only one credible future competitor and that is China; they will keep throwing money at it until they get there.

        There is a second problem, which is there aren't enough experienced aerospace engineers to deliver the industry's curren

        • What Russia and China cant build is decent, fuel efficient engines - GE, P&W and Rolls Royce have that market sewn up.

          • GE, P&W and Rolls-Royce will sell engines to any company their government's sanctions will allow. RR sold RB211-535E4 engines to Tupolov for a B-757 competitor the Tu-204. It was 90% of the Boeing for half the price and sold well in non-western markets. It was a sweet plane; the Russians have a more academic approach to engineering and apply science where we in the west apply economics.
            • I'm confused as to how 82 orders constitutes "sold well" when it doesnt come close to breaking even, and was only bought by the usual eastern airlines. Western airlines didnt touch it for obvious reasons.

              • by ghoul ( 157158 )

                What obvious reason? Racism?

                • Russian jet manufacturers cant compete with western quality standards, economics and support - they are well known for having poor supply chain, which hits airlines when a plane goes tech for instance.

                  Sorry but racism simply doesnt have anything to do with this - its pure economics. If their aircraft could compete, western airlines would be buying them in droves, simply because Airbus and Boeing cant keep up with current orders - the situation is ripe for a third major producer in the same market, the capa

      • Canadair and Embraer ...

        Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Dassault ...

        Hell, I'd even suggest they combine forces in order to become a third big player.

      • The Bombardier C-series is having trouble finding buyers -- not because it isn't a great airplane (it is), but because Boeing and Airbus are strong-arming existing customers into their own medium range jets.

        • Chinese 100 seaters are having the same problems, not helped by quality FUD (one of the most recent crashes publically attributed to the aircraft was actually a co-pilot under supervision landing downwind and long, then running out of tarmac. The country concerned (national airline) doesn't want to admit that for insurance liability reasons so they blamed the aircraft - my source is the boss of the ex-pilot who didn't tell the co-pilot to go around - ex pilot for obvious reasons)

    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ecirpdrahcir)> on Friday February 24, 2017 @05:30PM (#53926127)

      Actually the article is a load of crap - Boeing is reducing 777 production right now, is in talks to end 747 production and has scrapped a production increase in the 787 (and may indeed scrap an entire production line in the next few years).

      The only aircraft seeing production rate increases at the moment (that arent related to a new program coming on line, such as the A350XWB) are the A320 series and the 737 series - those sell well more than a thousand copies each year, with production lagging sales considerably.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually the article is a load of crap - Boeing is reducing 777 production right now, is in talks to end 747 production and has scrapped a production increase in the 787 (and may indeed scrap an entire production line in the next few years).

        The only aircraft seeing production rate increases at the moment (that arent related to a new program coming on line, such as the A350XWB) are the A320 series and the 737 series - those sell well more than a thousand copies each year, with production lagging sales considerably.

        Airbus is very competitive with Boeing on the 737 series and I believe both are struggling to undercut the other. Another thing that really hurts Boeing is Trump. If he implements his border taxes then their global supply chain is going to cost them big. I'm guessing they will shift to produce the aircraft outside the US entire and have foreign sales buy those. US sales might buy aircraft produced in the country, if Boeing can make it competitive but a lot of these suppliers have their own money tied up

        • Aircraft serial production is unique in that so many parts are still hand crafted and hand assembled, but the reality is that even this area is experiencing increases in automation and vastly improved assist equipment which means that fewer employees can do more work, more safely.

          Assist equipment is things like handling equpiment improvements which mean that one person can handle parts on a single rolling platform that used to take four people to ensure could be lifted or moved safely, or the shop crane tha

      • Don't forget Bombardier has the C-Series which is designed as a competitor to the 320/321 and 737 as well.
        • It isnt - the C-Series sits beneath the entrenched market that Boeing and Airbus dominate with the 737 and A320 series. Bombardier is really looking at the larger end of the regional jet market with the C-Series, as it just barely nibbles at the lower end of the 737 and A320 series capacities (and both Boeing and Airbus are seeing their customer base for those aircraft drift largely to the top end).

          • Not so. The CS300 t 160 seats overlaps 737 max and A319neo, and a CS500 model could be built at anytime but for the fact that being frozen out of the market by Boeing/Airbus strongarming hurts cashflow.

            • As I said, the C-Series sits beneath the entrenched market that Airbus and Boeing compete in - the fact that the CS300 touches the low end of Airbus and Boeings products capacity wise doesnt alter that, as airline orders have been trending toward the top end of those offerings for several years.

              A319NEO orders stand, to date, at just 55, with the bulk of Airbuses orders going to the A320NEO (two thirds at 3,600) and A321 (a third at 1,400).

              737MAX orders are trending a similar way where airlines have identifi

  • by Frederic54 ( 3788 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:50PM (#53925359) Journal
    Cannot they make some? Ok I know they are smaller, but the Bombardier CS300 has 135 seats, not that bad
    • Add the cost of an extra gate at each stop plus an extra crew plus higher passenger*mile cost. Dealbreaker.

      Airlines need to get their fleet mix right for their market, or they go broke.

    • by brambus ( 3457531 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @04:53PM (#53925853)
      Aircraft aren't like cars, you can't just hop from one to the next. There are certifications, training, simulators, supply chain, support infrastructure, etc. etc. It's why low-cost carriers are total monocultures in terms of aircraft they use. Ryanair *only* flies the 737NG. Easyjet *only* flies the A320 family.
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Aircraft aren't like cars, you can't just hop from one to the next. There are certifications, training, simulators, supply chain, support infrastructure, etc. etc. It's why low-cost carriers are total monocultures in terms of aircraft they use. Ryanair *only* flies the 737NG. Easyjet *only* flies the A320 family.

        This, running custom versions of aircraft are killing some airlines like QANTAS and BA who run custom 747's. They were developed in the days where a normal 747 couldn't make the flight from Sydney to LA. QF is phasing out the 747-400ER for normal A380's. Having large and varied fleets is expensive, having custom models is insane.

        • I guess Qantas wouldn't even need to purchase the overpriced A380, a 777-300ER might do the job just as well for a lot less. A little less capacity, but a lot lower operating costs, with ETOPS no problem operating it over the Pacific anymore and a far easier job finding suitable gates and airports for it. But I suppose if you already have it in your fleet, might as well go ahead and use it.
        • Forget my earlier post, turns out the 777-300ER doesn't have enough range either way.
  • I may be incorrect but I was thinking that most planes were issued basically on credit to these airlines, just like when you buy a new car.

    These airlines purchased these airplanes years in advance with people trying to guess what travel expectancy will be at the time they receive the plane. Lets say one of these airlines misjudged and they have to renege on their purchase of a plane or two as their passenger pool has not gained as their model suggested. No problem, Boeing/Airbus can just refit the interi
  • Not good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @04:20PM (#53925611)

    From what I saw at my time with Boeing, they don't do well when they are under pressure. Things get rushed, forgotten or hastily slapped together. There was an anonymous thread a few weeks ago on an aircraft discussion board as to whether it was OK to use hardware store grade fasteners on aircraft structures. I shuddered. Because I've seen it come close to that when they ran out of approved parts.

    Boeing (also known as the Lazy-B) builds good stuff when it's done at a leisure pace. But try to accelerate things and they go to hell pretty quickly.

    • Sin in haste, repent in leisure.

      It's hardly Boeing. Anything more complex than a hamburger tends to have this problem.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        It's hardly Boeing

        I've also worked for outfits that do a very good job scaling processes up. They think ahead. Boeing's problem (when I was there) was tradition. They still had people who remembered the way things were done on the Superfortress. And things were not going to change until they were gone.

        20 years ago, I worked in a building in Renton. One corner of that building was a computer room that housed an ancient (even at that time) mainframe. They did batch processing for some engineering functions, with everyone gett

        • "Because the old farts won't port the process to anything new"

          This is exactly the reason why manufacturers tend to move assembly lines to new towns or countries. It's an opportunity to get rid of this kind of issue without having the unions go nuts.

          Unions are necessary and a good thing to prevent exploitation. A good environment has the company, workers and unions all working together for a common goal.

          Unions which obstruct the abliity to make changes in order to stay competitive or to do a better job are a

    • Boeing did use off-the-shelf fasteners for the 787s roll out - they didnt plan ahead properly with their supplier of aviation grade fasteners and came up short, so decided to use commercial non-aviation grade fasteners just so they could roll something out for the 7/8/07 unveiling. Of course, the airplane didnt fly for another three years and was eventually written off as unsaleable due to the amount of rework it had undergone...

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Boeing did use off-the-shelf fasteners for the 787s roll out

        That is pretty well known. But the question was brought up recently (a few weeks ago). Which makes me wonder what motivated it this time.

  • but... liberals aid the economy was COLLAPSING from Trump's instability!

    Remember that, folks?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just over a month into his term and you Trumpettes are giving him credit for aircraft orders?

  • The solutions to all problems Boeing.

  • Unbeknown to many, Ukraine has some very advanced aircraft technology. Its "Mria" aircraft remains the largest cargo airplane [wikipedia.org] in the world. And it is not just the size — recently it was used to bring a replacement engine to a Boeing [nextbigfuture.com]...

    They are partnering with Saudis [defence-blog.com] now to develop their know-how into mass-production...

    • You do realise that the An-225 is an appallingly low tech aircraft, all it has going for it is its size. And the Ukraine basically doesnt have an aviation industry any more, as its prime buyer was Russia...

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        You do realise that the An-225 is an appallingly low tech aircraft, all it has going for it is its size.

        What else do you need for a cargo plane other than the size — and the lift, which it also has aplenty? The long distance, maybe, and the ability to operate in various weather conditions? It has got all that too...

        And the Ukraine

        There is no "the" in front of the country name. The Germany? The France?

        as its prime buyer was Russia

        Yes, and that's why they are now reorienting towards the Saudis as I alre

        • What else do you need for a cargo plane other than the size — and the lift, which it also has aplenty?

          Your original claim was that "Ukraine has some very advanced aircraft technology". The An225 is a Soviet era design, hardly what anyone in 2017 should call"advanced". It's big yes, but it's low tech, and only one was ever built.

          There is no "the" in front of the country name. The Germany? The France?

          The Netherlands, the Congo, the Philippines, the Bahamas etc...

          • And don't forget the Germans...
          • by mi ( 197448 )

            The An225 is a Soviet era design

            Boeing 767 was also created in 1981 — and they still can't make enough of them [seekingalpha.com].

            hardly what anyone in 2017 should call"advanced".

            It is neither computer nor software. It is a plane. US still flies B-52s (since 1955) and F-15s (since 1976).

            and only one was ever built.

            Yep — because Socialism of the USSR was not conductive to proper mass production.

            The Netherlands, the Congo, the Philippines, the Bahamas etc...

            If you want to use the short names of the countries, then

            • Holland is not a country, dumbass. It is a region and a former province. The Netherlands (the low countries) is exactly right.

            • Boeing 767 was also created in 1981

              The 767-200 was released in 1982. The 767 you buy today is not the 767-200.

              It is neither computer nor software.

              You might want to check how they build planes these days

              It is a plane. US still flies B-52s (since 1955) and F-15s (since 1976).

              Again, not the same planes that rolled off the floor. The name might be the same, but they have been heavily update since. There is only one An225, there have been no upgraded models released.

              Yep — because Socialism of the USSR was not conductive to proper mass production.

              So not advanced then...

              If you want to use the short names of the countries, then it is, respectively: Holland, Congo-Kinshasa (or Congo-Brazzaville — in your ignorance, you aren't even aware there are two), Philippines, Bahamas. "The" may be part of a long name of a country, such as The Kingdom of The Netherlands...

              You're an idiot. This was my exact point. People don't always use the exact official name of a country. Go back to Reddit...

            • Yep â" because Socialism of the USSR was not conductive to proper mass production.

              Right. That's why they didn't churn out 80,000 T-34s.

        • There's only one AN225, but they're considering completing the other airframe and maybe building a third, thanks to increased heavy lifting requirements.

          AN124 lifting capacity is heavily oversubscribed and the vast majority of business is outside the old eastern blocs. Virtually all of that goes through a freight handling contractor in England.

          It's worth noting that both the AN124 and 225 are operating in a market completely separated from Airbus and Boeing. Not even the 747-F can take the kinds of loads th

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            It's worth noting that both the AN124 and 225 are operating in a market completely separated from Airbus and Boeing.

            There is a different meaning to the word "separation". Firms like FedEx and UPS may be happy to use a giant plane like Mria for their own busy routes — still need the same crew, but can take a lot more load. A single such AN can replace a number of Boeings and/or Airbuses, which could be used for human travelers.

            If only Antonov actually managed to move to actually building those planes,

            • Antonov will happily build them if someone orders enough to justify starting the line - but it's kinda hard to run a factory when there's a civil war going on just down the road

              The current problem is that the Progress turbofan engines on them aren't very efficient (or particularly reliable, despite being made modular for easy repairs) and that coupled with needing a crew of 4-8 means that the planes have higher operating cost per tonne/km than haulers want to pay.

              Couple that with legendary Russian "built li

    • Ukraine to what rescue? The demand being discussed here is for passenger aircraft in the 100-200 seat category for short-to-medium routes. Did I miss a recent Ukrainian aircraft in that category? Mria is basically a 1980s huge empty flying box, a completely different aircraft for a completely different job.
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        The categories aren't without overlaps. If Ukraine takes a bite from the cargo-plane market, then Boeing can produce more passenger jets.

        Mria is basically a 1980s huge empty flying box

        Just what FedEx [planespotters.net] or UPS might want then, right?

        • The categories aren't without overlaps.

          They are without overlap. You can't just swap aircraft types without serious infrastructure changes in an airline. Airplanes aren't cars.

          Just what FedEx [planespotters.net] or UPS might want then, right?

          No. The Mria is much larger than is often needed or even wanted (airport/handling restrictions), it has terrible fuel economy and doesn't fit within the fleet composition of FedEx or UPS. Again, you can't just switch airplane makes like you do with cars. There are training considerations, certifications, maintenance, parts availability, manufacturer support, etc. etc. Bigg

    • Ah, my favourite ukrainian dumbass strikes again. First, Ukraine is not even able to build a second one, even though they had an unused airframe collecting dust for very much exactly 30 years. And second, the aircraft industry in Zimbabwe-upon-Dnieper is long dead. Their last breath was the An-148, a commercial failure thanks to shitty engines and also thanks to the Antonov's inability to actually build the goddamn airplane. Matter of fact, the vast majority of these airplanes were licence-built in Russia,

      • Ah, my favourite ukrainian dumbass strikes again.

        Nazis are so out fashion, dumbass, you really should try to do a better job hiding it... Not that you can do a better job at anything, even /. trolling.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @05:47PM (#53926241) Journal
    Last time oil hit almost 150$ a barrel, and stayed well above 100$ for a longtime after that, all the airlines were squeezed dry. Southwest alone prospered it had locked in oil at 60$ a barrel for several years and it was riding high. It was making so much profit on oil desk, it was rumored SEC is going to classify it as a energy trader and not a transporter. Some airlines were prohibited by the regulators to buy options and were forced buy in the spot market. Airlines have learnt their lesson well. When the oil crashed below 40$ most of them have locked in oil at low prices. So they are sort of protected from oil shocks.

    And China and India are booming. The largest airplane order was from Indica, a domestic airline from India. 410 orders for Airbus 320. Airbus with their government funding is able to give them very long lease terms and guaranteed buy back price. Boeing needs to raise cash on commercial paper, Airbus does so on government underwritten bonds. But that is a different story.

    Confluence of these factors, and a general belief that oil is never going to exceed 100$ ever again is fueling the optimism and large airplane orders. Oil producers trying to kick their oil dependence are trying to become transportation centers. Now a days it is impossible to beat the fares offered by Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Etihad to India/China from USA. So even the oil states are investing in airplanes.

    They believe the moment oil goes above 60, fracking becomes profitable again. At 80, the fracking will flood the market with over supply and oil will slideback.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks, Trump. Making America Great Again, one victory at a time.

  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @07:30PM (#53926749) Homepage
    That's complete Bullsh*t.
    I live in Seattle. Boeing announced it will be cutting jobs in 2017 due to " fierce competition with rival Airbus and a drop in new orders".
    They will be cutting the number of planes produced per month.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sea... [bizjournals.com]
  • 30% increase of air traffic will not help curbing down CO2 emissions.
    • So what? CO2 is good for plants, so it will help feed the growing population.
      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        Some plants like extra CO2 and their growth will increase as it does. With food crops it's common for the crops to grow more with extra CO2, but to have lower nutritional yields, meaning the extra growth is wasted. There is a lot more to this than you seem to realise.

    • Nuclear powered hydrogen -> methane -> (long chain hydrocarbon) kerosene production would solve that (using atmospheric CO2)

      We already have the technology to do it, just not the political or economic incentives - and that's unlikely to occur with the shitgibbon's cronies crapping all over the environment, but we may have our (as in the species) hands forced by a burgeoning anoxic event long before sea levels change to any meaningful degree.

  • The framework which is designed for asynchronous responses...such as planes not appearing on demand! Whoa!

I haven't lost my mind -- it's backed up on tape somewhere.

Working...