Tag Archives: 777

Twin-aisle aircraft deliveries 20-year forecast (update 2015)

In a previous post I shared a graphic with the “Commercial wide-body airplanes’ deliveries per year, 1969-2015” (see below). I then commented:

“Looking backwards it’s clear that 2015 was a peak in wide-bodies deliveries. Looking forward it may have been a short-term peak, but looking further ahead it is not so clear.”

Commercial wide-body airplanes' deliveries per year, 1969-2015.

Commercial wide-body airplanes’ deliveries per year, 1969-2015.

Last November, I published a post, “Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2015)“, with the following table that compares Airbus’ Global Market Forecast and Boeing’s Current Market Outlook:

Comparison of Airbus GMF and Boeing CMO 2015-2034.

Comparison of Airbus GMF and Boeing CMO 2015-2034.

If we focus on the twin-aisle segment, we see that both companies are very closely forecasting between 7,500 and 7,600 passenger aircraft deliveries (with less than 90 aircraft of difference, a 1.2% deviation). The forecast for the freighters is not shown in the table but it is also very similar for the segment, between 718 (Airbus’ view) and 800 (Boeing’s) freighter aircraft. In combination, each company foresees between  8,290 (Boeing view) and 8,297 (Airbus’) airplanes’ deliveries in the segment. Remarkably similar and definitely converged from years ago.

In the very large aircraft segment both forecasts do not converge. But since the figures of deliveries are an order of magnitude lower, I will focus on what they define as “twin-aisle” segment.

Let’s put forward again the question: was 2015 a peak year in terms of twin-aisle deliveries?

Quick math: if we take those ~8,300 aircraft to be delivered in the next 20 years, we arrive at an average of 415 aircraft per year. That figure excludes the very large aircraft. In 2015, there were 367 deliveries of twin-aisles (excluding A380 and 747):

  • A330: 103
  • A350XWB: 14
  • 767: 16
  • 777: 98
  • 787: 135
  • IL-96: 1

Thus, in 2015 we would have been far from the peak. If we simply linearized those 8,300 deliveries from 2015 levels up to 2034, we would get the following profile:

Twin-aisle deliveries historic and 20-year forecast.

Twin-aisle deliveries historic and 20-year forecast.

The reader may correctly think that market forecast figures are not engraved in stone and are rather optimistic. Fair enough.

Both forecast have been rather accurate in the past forecasting traffic growth. Not necessarily in forecasting the number of aircraft in each specific segment. See the post, “Aircraft market forecasts accuracy (update 2014)“,  in which I analyzed Boeing CMO forecast of 1999 with the actual fleet at the end of 2013. See the result below:

Comparison of aircraft fleet at year-end 2013: 1999 forecast vs. actual (sources: Boeing CMO 1999 and 2014).

Comparison of aircraft fleet at year-end 2013: 1999 forecast vs. actual (sources: Boeing CMO 1999 and 2014).

Thus, in 2013 there were 27% less twin-aisle aircraft than what had been predicted in 1999.

If 2015 market forecasts were off the mark in the same proportion (27%), that would mean that instead of 8,300 airplane deliveries in the next 20 years we would see about 6,050… meaning ~300 airplanes per year in the 20-year span.

In that case, we might have seen the peak.

Let’s take a look at current backlogs at the end of 2015:

  • Airbus: 1,112 a/c
    • A330 family: 350 a/c
    • A350: 762 a/c
  • Boeing: 1,383 a/c
    • 767: 80 a/c
    • 777 family: 524 a/c
    • 787: 779 a/c

Thus, at the end of 2015 the combined backlog (firm) stood at ~2,500 airplanes. That is a 30% of the 8,300 forecast, and a 41% of the 6,050 aircraft (i.e. forecast reduced in 27%).

The sceptic reader could still have doubts of the quality of the backlog (i.e., some customers may go through troubled waters and cancel orders).

Last year, I published a post, “Boeing 787 orders, cancellations, deliveries & backlog through 2014“, in which I showed the orders and cancellations of the 787 programme since its launch. See the summary graphic below:

787 orders, cancellations, deliveries and backlog through 2014.

787 orders, cancellations, deliveries and backlog through 2014.

The 787 programme experienced serious delays and industrial issues from 2009 to 2013 in the midst of the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Through 2014, the programme had suffered 247 cancellations out of 1,318 gross orders, that is almost 19% of cancellations.

I believe that 19% can be considered an upper ceiling of how much of the current 2015 twin-aisle backlog (~2,500 a/c) could be considered as dubious. Thus, at least about 2,000 firm orders could be seen as rather secured.

Let’s see at the question (was 2015 a peak year?) from a different perspective: in the immediate coming years, what are the announced production rates?

Thus, according to the announced production rates and targets, in 2016 we should see about 380 twin-aisle combined deliveries, higher than the 367 we saw in 2015.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Commercial wide-body airplanes’ deliveries per year, 1969-2015

The first wide body commercial airplane, the first twin-aisle ever, the Boeing 747 first flew in February 9th 1969 and it was first delivered to a customer (Pan Am) in December 1969. In the following years new wide bodies arrived to the market: the Douglas DC-10 (in 1971), the Lockheed TriStar (1972), the Airbus A300 (1974)…

In the last weeks, both Airbus and Boeing have released the figures of aircraft deliveries for the complete 2015. With them I updated a graphic I had made back in 2013 with the commercial wide-body airplanes’ deliveries per year. Take a look at it.

Commercial wide-body airplanes' deliveries per year, 1969-2015.

Commercial wide-body airplanes’ deliveries per year, 1969-2015.

Some reflections:

For the first time ever, over 400 twin-aisle aircraft were delivered in a year. The feat is remarkable.

The average number of deliveries for the previous 20-year period (1995-2014) was 215 airplanes per year. Up to now, in the previous 46 years of twin-aisle market, in only 3 years more than 300 airplanes were delivered in a single year (the previous 3: 2012, 2013 and 2014) and only 12 times more than 200 airplanes had been delivered (including the previous 3 with more than 300).

The combined steep production ramp-up during last 4 years has enabled to reach a production rate of almost the double of what was produced just 5 years ago. In particular, the combined compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the rate of deliveries for the last 5 years has been 16.1%, for the last 10 years 10.4%. These rates are the triple and double than the yearly growth of traffic (measured in RPKs).

With the figures up to the end of 2015, almost 8,000 wide-body airplanes had been delivered. Thus, by now, end of January 2016, we have certainly reached the figure (1). We however don’t know whether the 8,000th twin aisle was a Boeing or an Airbus (2).

The share of deliveries in 2015: 65% Boeing and 35% Airbus. Boeing has slightly increased its share of deliveries in the last 4-5 years, in particular with the ramp-up of the 787.

There were 135 787s delivered in 2015. That is another remarkable feat: the largest amount of twin-aisle deliveries of a single model in a single year ever.

Only 6 times ever (combination of model-year) have there been twin-aisle deliveries of over a hundred airplanes: the A330 in the last 4 years (with a peak of 108 airplanes in 2013 -then a record- and 2014) and the 787 the last two years. Only other 10 times there were deliveries of more than 80 airplanes of a single model in a year: the A330 (2010-2011), the 747 in 1970 and the 777 (7 times, including the last 4 years consecutively, out of which the last 3 on the verge of 100 deliveries – 98, 99, 98).

Two days ago Boeing released its 2015 earnings, and with it news of 777 production cut came up. Some time before similar news had come of 747 production rate decrease. With these news, quickly came comments of whether aerospace cycle may have peaked (see here). Looking backwards it’s clear that 2015 was a peak in wide-bodies deliveries. Looking forward it may have been a short-term peak, but looking further ahead it is not so clear. I will leave for another post the outlook of past deliveries mixed with what Airbus and Boeing market forecasts say (GMF and CMO, respectively).

(1) With the sources I used,  at the end of 2015 there were a combined 7,988 wide-bodies delivered. However, I found different figures for the deliveries of the Ilyushin IL-86 (between 95 and 106). In any case, both figures would leave the total tally below 8,000 (making 2016 “the year of the 8,000th delivery”); I took for the analysis most conservative figure.

(2) Working at the moment for the Airbus A330neo programme, I will assume the 8,000th delivery was an A330, rather than a Boeing.

(3) I have indicated in the post that we have just passed the mark of 8,000 wide-bodies delivered since 1969, and, on the other hand, the different studies state that there are about 4,900 twin-aisle in operation. The gap of ~3,100 airplanes corresponds to those retired, parked, scrapped, crashed, displayed in museums…

1 Comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Wide-body mix in 17 years of Boeing CMOs

Two years ago, I wrote a post showing the puzzling change in Boeing’s predicted mix of twin-aisle sales, between small and medium wide-bodies (“Wide-body mix in 15 years of Boeing CMOs”) (1). A few days ago I wrote a post about the publishing by Boeing of its Current Market Outlook for 2015-2034.  As I noted in that post, this year’s CMO is consistent with last year’s figures, i.e., the larger share of the forecasted market corresponds to small wide-bodies (787s from Boeing’s perspective). Recall the numbers:

  • small wide-bodies: 4,500 a/c in CMO2015 (passenger aircraft only),
  • medium wide-bodies: 2,990 a/c in CMO2015 (same figure as in CMO2014).

In the sub-segment of the medium wide-bodies passenger aircraft figures for  have remained constant and there is a slight increase in freighters (60 a/c); whereas for small wide-bodies the main increase is seen in the passenger aircraft (+230 a/c).

Since I keep a collection of CMOs from many years, I will include again a comparison going 17 years back…

Twin-aisle mix distribution (Boeing CMO 1998-2015, includes both passenger and freighter aircraft).

Twin-aisle mix distribution (Boeing CMO 1998-2015, includes both passenger and freighter aircraft).

Seeing at the graphic, made using Boeing’s forecasts’ figures:

  • During the first 5 years (1998-2003) the trends are quite constant, seeing medium wide-bodies a slightly higher demand.
  • From 2003 to 2007, the mix is reverted, possibly to favour the launch of the 787.
  • In 2008 the CMO did not provide the split.
  • From 2009 to 2013, you can see that both trends in the forecasts are erratic… why? Only Boeing knows. (2)
  • From 2013 to 2015, it seems that the trends are stabilized again in a higher demand for 787-size aircraft.

(1) Last year, I made an update of that post with the consolidated view of the last 16 years, find it here.

(2) A speculation: a Boeing-internal need to sell the concept of the 777X?

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Boeing list prices increases vs. discounts increases (update for 2014)

In a previous post I updated the estimate of what is the average discount Boeing applies when selling its commercial airplanes using 2014 data of list prices, deliveries and reported revenues. The figure I came up with was a 47% discount. I included the following graphic showing the discount evolution:

Boeing Average Discount Evolution, through 2014.

Boeing Average Discount Evolution, through 2014.

Last year, seeing the increasing trend of average discount together with knowing the fact that Boeing regularly increases list prices triggered the following question: Have Boeing airplane discounted prices increased, decreased or stayed constant in the recent years? I set out to answer this question using the estimated average discount of each year (1) from the graphic above.

The Boeing list prices (LP) (2) can be found here. I have been recording those prices for years and thus have a table with the evolution of list prices for each model year by year. The following step is to apply the average discount estimated for each year to then-year list prices, to get the estimated discounted prices (EDP) (2) per model. Thus, a table can be built for the last 6 years.

You can find below the result for the best-selling aircraft during previous years: 737-800, 737-900ER, 777-300ER and 787-8. Together these 4 models amounted to over 640 deliveries in 2014 or 89% of the total 723 airplanes Boeing delivered in 2014.

Boeing List and discount Prices evolution table, 2008-2014.

Boeing List and discount Prices evolution table, 2008-2014.

In the table above I included in black figures what have been Boeing list prices of these models in the past years (as reported in their website) while I marked in blue the figures which are estimated, using as a departure point the calculated averages discounts per year (also included in blue in the table). I included as well the list prices year-on-year change as a % of the previous year list prices, per model.

The average list price increase included at the bottom line is computed with the information of all Boeing models (19 in 2008 and 20 in 2014, though different ones (e.g. last year addition of 777-8X and 777-9X), a total of 26 different models along this period), not only the 4 included in this table.

You may see in the table above that after not increasing prices in 2009, Boeing has steadily increased them in 2010 (6.3%), 2011 (4.7%), 2012 (6.7%), 2013 (1.9%) and 2014 (3.1%). However, if you take a look at the blue figures in the same table you will notice that prices of 2014 are between 2010 and 2011 price levels for all 4 models! That is, the widely announced yearly list prices increase has been yearly offset by a discreet (not-announced) increase in the discounts applied to the sales of airplanes. Thus, the pricing power of Boeing has remained barely constant during the last 5 years. You may see it better in the graphic below:

Boeing List & discount Prices evolution graphic vs. inflation in USA (through 2014).

Boeing List & discount Prices evolution graphic vs. inflation in USA (through 2014).

The graphic shows the price evolution for each of the 4 airplane models selected, taking as a reference their list and estimated discounted prices in 2008 (indicated as 100%) and also the evolution of inflation in the USA (3) in purple, to reflect the evolution of real prices (i.e. accounting for inflation). List prices are shown with straight lines, versus dashed lines used for estimated prices. Each pair of prices for each aircraft is presented in the same color for easier identification. Some comments to the graphic:

  • Through continuous increases, 2014 list prices were between 21% (737 and 777) and 31% (for the 787) higher than in 2008.
  • However, due to increasing discounts from 38% in 2008 to 47% in 2014, the increase in list prices is almost entirely offset (especially for 737 and 777, just 4% above 2008 levels).
  • 2014 discounted prices are below 2011 discounted prices for all models except 787.
  • If compare the evolution of prices vs. the US inflation (general prices in 2014 being 10% higher than in 2008), we see that:
    • Boeing actually lost pricing power in both the 737 and 777, which are cheaper in real (inflation-adjusted) discounted terms in 2014 than they were in 2008 (about 6% cheaper).
    • Only the 787 has been able to keep up the pace of discount escalation and inflation.

(1) There is no way to know the real price and discount that Boeing applies in each sale, as it will depend from customer to customer (American Airlines -AMR- or Fedex) and from model to model (737-800 or 787-8). There where competition is tougher, discounts will be higher. However, the estimates I have made are an average of all Boeing aircraft sold in a given year.

(2) Both list prices (LP) and estimated discounted prices (EDP) are expressed in then-year dollars.

(3) US inflation series since 2008: -0.4% (2009), 1.6% (2010), 3.2% (2011), 2.1% (2012), 1.5% (2013) and 1.6% (2014).

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Learning Curves: Boeing 787 case (from Dec 2012 to Dec 2014)

Last year, I wrote in a couple of posts an introduction to the concept of the learning curve and provided a the case of the Boeing 787 in 2013 (based on figures disclosed by Boeing CFO, Greg Smith). In the first of those posts, I discussed that:

Boeing does not disclose outright what is the actual learning curve it is achieving in its program. Nevertheless, in its investor relations conferences it provides information here and there of cost savings achieved, etc. This can be interpreted as derived from learning curve effects, and would permit to build a model, even if based on scarce information.

This year again, let me quote again one of those excerpts from Boeing executives in order to update the exercise:

On the 787-8, we’ve seen a decline in unit cost of approximately 30% over the last 175 deliveries and on 787-9, we’ve seen declines of 20% since the first delivery. Based on this progress, our production schedule and planned productivity investments, we continue to expect the 787 to be cash positive during 2015 and we still anticipate deferred production to decline shortly after we’ve achieved the 12 per month production rate in 2016. No change to these fundamental milestones.” Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q4 2014 Earnings Conference

As I mentioned last year, to the avid reader, and knowledgeable and savvy analyst, this paragraph is enough to deduce an actual learning curve achieved by the 787 for each aircraft model, provided that information reported by Boeing CFO, Greg Smith, was accurate.

Through the end of 2014, Boeing had delivered 212 787-8 and 10 787-9. The 787-9 were all delivered in 2014. The 212 787-8 were delivered as follows:

  • 2011: 3 aircraft.
  • 2012: 44 a/c.
  • 2013: 63 a/c.
  • 2014: 102 a/c.

Greg Smith is mentioning a cost reduction of 30% over the last 175 deliveries. As he was talking at the 2014 earnings call, we can safely assume that the figures were put up for him using deliveries and costs only through the end 2014 (and not counting info from January 2015 deliveries). That means that the cost improvements are measured theoretically from the aircraft 37th through the 212th (175). You can extract a report from Boeing website of the complete 787 deliveries here. I did it. Analysing it you see that between the beginning of December 2012 and the end of December 2014 176 787-8 were delivered (1).

Thus, the exercise to find out what learning curve Boeing achieved during that time span is as simple as to see what learning curve yields an “approximately 30% unit cost improvement” from the unit 36th (2) to the unit 212th. The beauty is that we do not even need to know the initial unit cost to perform the calculation, as the relative improvements in terms of percentages are independent of the starting point. All the information has indeed been provided by Boeing.

As I did in the blog post of the last year, in this first graph below I just plotted some generic learning curves, from 95% to 75%. This form of representation provides a good view of how learning is intense at the beginning of the production process and it stabilizes later on. It also shows well how learning is more intense and cost reductions are bigger for a 75% curve than for a 95% curve.

Generic learning curves.

Generic learning curves.

However, in the previous curves it is difficult to distinguish the 36th and the 212th units which are needed for the calculation. Thus, I plotted the same curves in a log scale for the numbers of units produced in the graphic below:

Boeing 787 learning curve over 176 units through Dec 2014 calculation, delta unit cost between 36th & 212th units.

Boeing 787 learning curve over 176 units through Dec 2014 calculation, delta unit cost between 36th & 212th units.

In this second graphic I added the information of what relative cost reduction is achieved between the 36th and the 212th units for each of the curves (3).

To make sure that readers are not lost, let’s take the 87% curve (in red). Following that curve, the unit cost of the 36th unit produced is a 48.7% of the 1st unit cost, whereas the unit cost for the 212th unit produced is a 34.1% of the 1st unit cost. The difference is then 48.7% – 34.1% = 14.6%, which represents a 30.0% cost reduction from the 36th unit cost. If you follow the same calculation for each of the curves, you will obtain the following unit cost improvements between 36th and 212th units:

  • 95% curve: -12.3% unit cost improvement
  • 90% curve: -23.6% unit cost improvement
  • 87% curve: -30.0% unit cost improvement
  • 85% curve: -34.0% unit cost improvement
  • 80% curve: -43.5% unit cost improvement
  • 75% curve: -52.1% unit cost improvement

Thus, from the information provided by Boeing of units delivered and unit cost improvement (“approximately 30%″, Greg Smith) we can deduce that from December 2012 through December 2014 the average learning curve that the 787 program has achieved is about 87%. Thus, in line with aerospace average indicated by NASA (85%), or in line with the reported 84% achieved in the 777. Though a bit lower than that calculated for 2013 (see here last year’s post). We can interpret that mismatch as either as a minimum error inherent of these estimates (85% vs. 87%) or that indeed the rate of improvement has somehow slowed down in 2014 in comparison to 2013.

Had Boeing been able to achieve effectively a 85% curve in the last 175 deliveries, bear no doubt that the message from Greg Smith would have been along the lines of an approximate 35% cost reduction (being the mathematical result 34%), instead of the reported 30%.

All these numbers refer to the 787-8. Now, remember that Boeing CFO also indicated that “on 787-9, we’ve seen declines of 20% since the first delivery”. 

Here, the calculation that needs to be done is the same. 787-9 deliveries started in 2014. If we assume that Greg’s comment referred only to 2014 deliveries (not 2015 ones), then the calculation must be made on 10 787-9 delivered between June and December 2014.  Here the learning curve obtained is a 93.5% ~87-88% (5) (6).

(1) I guess Greg Smith rounded to 175, but his “decline in unit cost of approximately 30% over the last 175 deliveries” refers to actually some fixed internal monthly reports and is based on 176 deliveries (not 175). (4)

(2) Taking into account the note (1), I will use 176 aircraft and deliveries from the 36th aircraft through the 212th.

(3) Bear in mind what a relative cost reduction is in contrast to the fact of relative costs represented in the vertical axis as percentages of the initial cost (100%).

(4) The taking of 175 instead of 176 aircraft practically does not change the result. For the same 87% curve the calculated cost reduction in one case is 30% and in the other 29.6%.

(5) This is in line with the slow down of the learning curve for the 787-8 comparing 2013 result with the result along the time span December 2012-December 2014.

(6) I initially calculated 93.5% as a result of a 20% cost reduction between the 1st and 10th units produced. However, as Matt B pointed, the first 3 787-9 have not been delivered (though they are units produced from which there was a learning effect). When you calculate what is the result for a 20% cost reduction between units 4th and 13th (the first 10 delivered), you get a curve between 87-88%, more or less the same one than for 787-8. Thus, it seems than at the beginning of the 787-8 production they went along a 85% curve that has slowed to a 87% for both models.

7 Comments

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Boeing real prices (accounting for inflation) after discount

In a previous post I compared for some Boeing airplanes (737-800, 737-900ER, 777-300ER and 787-8) what had been the evolution from 2008 to 2013 of the published list prices against the estimated discounted prices. In that post, I arrived to the following conclusions:

[…] the pricing power of Boeing had remained barely constant during the last 5 years.

  • Through continuous increases, 2013 list prices were between 18% (737 and 777) and 27% (for the 787) higher than in 2008.
  • However, due to increasing discounts from 38% in 2008 to 47% in 2013, the increase in list prices is almost entirely offset.
  • 2013 discounted prices are below 2010 discounted prices for all models.
  • 2013 discounted prices are almost back at 2008 levels for the 737 and 777, only the 787 seems to have stayed at 2010 levels.

I, then, received one interesting comment from a reader, ikkeman, pointing at the fact that if the estimated discounted prices are expressed in then-year dollars (1), if real prices had not increased since 2010, that meant that they had indeed decreased.

See below the graphic I included in the a previous post updated adding the data of US inflation after 2008. [The series is: -0.4% (2009), 1.6% (2010), 3.2% (2011), 2.1% (2012) and 1.5% (2013)]

Boeing List & discount Prices evolution graphic vs. inflation in USA,

Boeing List & discount Prices evolution graphic vs. inflation in USA.

With the information of the inflation (purple line) the following 2 conclusions apply:

  • 787 real price (accounting for inflation) after discount has simply kept up with inflation rate since 2008.
  • 737 and 777 real prices after discounts, however, have lost ground with respect to inflation since 2008. On average they have lost about 8.5% in total or about 1.6% per year.

(1) That is the case as estimated discounted prices have been estimated year by year from the financial reports and list prices of the year, thus, using then-year US dollars.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Learning Curves: Boeing 787 case in 2013

In the previous two posts I introduced the concept of learning curve and provided a case in point (based on figures attributed to A350 FAL by Leeham News). In the first of those posts, I discussed that:

Boeing does not disclose outright what is the actual learning curve it is achieving in its program. Nevertheless, in its investor relations conferences it provides information here and there of cost savings achieved, etc. This can be interpreted as derived from learning curve effects, and would permit to build a model, even if based on scarce information.

Let me quote again one of those excerpts from Boeing executives:

“We continue to see progress in key operational performance indicators and unit costs, as we further implement production efficiencies and stabilize the overall production system on the 787 program. Unit cost has improved approximately 20% over the past year on the 787-8 […]“Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q4 2013 Earnings Conference.

To the avid reader, and knowledgeable and savvy analyst, this paragraph is enough to deduce the actual learning curve achieved by the 787 during 2013, provided that information reported by Boeing CFO, Greg Smith, was accurate.

During 2013 Boeing delivered 65  787s, from the 50th to the 114th units (in previous years it had delivered already 3 in 2011 and 46 in 2012).

Thus, the exercise to find out what learning curve Boeing achieved in 2013 is as simple as to see what learning curve yields an “approximately 20% unit cost improvement” from the unit 50th to the unit 114th. The beauty is that we do not even need to know the initial unit cost to perform the calculation, as the relative improvements in terms of percentages are independent of the starting point. All the information has indeed been provided by Boeing.

In the first graph below I just plotted some generic learning curves, from 95% to 75%. This form of representation provides a good view of how learning is intense at the beginning of the production process and it stabilizes later on. It also shows well how learning is more intense and cost reductions are bigger for a 75% curve than for a 95% curve.

Generic learning curves.

Generic learning curves.

However, in the previous curve it is difficult to distinguish the 50th and the 114th units which are needed for the calculation. Thus, I plotted the same curves in with a log scale for the numbers of units produced in the graphic below:

Boeing 787 learning curve in 2013 calculation, delta unit cost between 50th & 114th units.

Boeing 787 learning curve in 2013 calculation, delta unit cost between 50th & 114th units.

In this second graphic I added the information of what relative cost reduction is achieved between the 50th and the 114th units for each of the curves (1).

To make sure that readers are not lost, let’s take the 85% curve. Following that curve, the unit cost of the 50th unit produced is a 40.2% of the 1st unit cost, whereas the unit cost for the 114th unit produced is a 32.9% of the 1st unit cost. The difference is then 40.2% – 32.9% = 7.2%, which represents a 18.0% cost reduction from the 50th unit cost. If you follow the same calculation for each of the curves, you will obtain the following unit cost improvements between 50th and 114th units:

  • 95% curve: -6.1% unit cost improvement
  • 90% curve: -12.0% unit cost improvement
  • 85% curve: -18.0% unit cost improvement
  • 80% curve: -23.8% unit cost improvement
  • 75% curve: -29.6% unit cost improvement

Thus, from the information provided by Boeing of units delivered and unit cost improvement (“approximately 20”, Greg Smith) we can deduce that during 2013 the learning curve that the 787 program has achieved is between 85% and 80%. Thus, in line with aerospace average indicated by NASA (85%), or in line with the reported 84% achieved in the 777.

If we wanted to know what learning curve yields exactly that 20% unit cost improvement, it is now trivial to calculate it: the 83.3% learning curve.

Having made these numbers, and taking into account the words used by Boeing CFO, “unit cost has improved approximately 20% over the past year on the 787-8″, I take it as that the improvement has been close to 20% though probably not reaching it; thus, I understand that the learning curve was rather between 83.3-85% instead of down to 83.3%.

(1) Bear in mind what a relative cost reduction is in contrast to the fact of relative costs represented in the vertical axis as percentages of the initial cost (100%).

2 Comments

Filed under Aerospace & Defence