The last two issues of Boeing’s Current Market Outlook, included a slide in which Boeing wanted to prove that their forecasts have been more accurate in the last 10 years. They compare actual aircraft demand versus both Airbus and Boeing forecasts in the year 2000.
I find it interesting that all segments are described as such, segments: “Single-aisle”, “Twin-aisle”, “Large”… except for Airbus forecast in which Boeing introduces the model “A380”. As if wanting to point that Airbus was wrong in its A380 forecast… as if wanting to steer demand.
Let’s see the numbers:
- Actual demand (2000-09): ~300 aircraft.
- Boeing forecast (2000-19): ~700 aircraft, assuming equal split (among the 2 decades): ~350 a/c in 2000-09.
- Airbus forecast (2000-19): ~1,300 aircraft, assuming equal split: ~650 a/c in 2000-09 (although A380 first flight took place only in April 2005).
As of today, Airbus has sold 234 A380s, including the latest 32 from Emirates. The prospects for the aircraft seem brighter as operators started operating it, on the other hand Boeing 747-8 orders have stalled since 2007.
A bit of history.
Yesterday, I was digging into back materials and I found two interesting pieces. Both from Boeing’s website in the year 1996 (using the way back machine). The first one is from a webpage about delivering value it could be read:
“In an industry defined by continual change, customers expect Boeing to help them prepare for the challenges ahead. That’s why we work closely with customers to understand their long-term requirements.
Customers have expressed interest in many potential airplanes, including:
- An airplane smaller than the 737-600, seating 80 to 100 passengers.
- An airplane larger than today’s 747-400.
- A capable and cost-effective supersonic jetliner.
- Derivatives of current models.”
Of those potential airplanes: we have seen the Embraer 190, the Airbus A380, derivatives and the only one that never came true was the supersonic jetliner…
The other piece is from a news release on the occasion of the Farnborough air show of 1996 (2010 edition is taking place right now). There, Boeing stated:
“Most major aerospace companies agree that airlines will require 500 to 700 airplanes capable of carrying more than 500 passengers. Boeing forecasts 500 airplanes will be needed by the year 2015.
Much of the demand for these very large airplanes will be generated by steady growth in air travel to and from Asia, and by capacity constraints at some of the world’s largest airports.
The 747-600X, with its ability to carry 548 passengers on routes up to 7,750 nautical miles (8,900 statute miles or 14,350 km), is designed to fill this market need. It will allow airlines to accommodate traffic growth without increasing the number of departures scheduled for busy airports.
During the next 20 years, airlines also will need approximately 600 airplanes capable of carrying between 400 and 500 passengers.
The Boeing 747-400 and 747-500X are designed to fill this market need.”
At this point it is useful to remember that in 1993 Boeing together with Airbus consortium companies started the feasibility study for the Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT). Boeing left the joint study two years later. Nevertheless, still in 1996 it stated in its website that demand of aircraft carrying above 400 seats (747 and A380 of today) in the following 20 years would be between 1,100-1,300 planes, very close to Airbus forecast of the year 2000. The reasons behind that demand were the same Airbus argues nowadays: growth in Asia, constrains in largest hubs…
Later on, Boeing changed its forecast down to 700 aircraft.