Tag Archives: aircraft market

World commercial aircraft fleet: forecast vs. actual

Some weeks ago I made a comparison about Airbus and Boeing aircraft market forecasts. Last week I published a couple of posts about the evolution in the forecasted aircraft average size and on the accuracy of these market forecasts. For this, I looked for old issues of Boeing Current Market Outlook from as back as 1990.

The next step then it was obvious, I compiled the following graphic showing with the data available information over a 40-year span on:

  • The evolution of world commercial aircraft fleet year by year (blue line) from 1995 to 2011,
  • The forecasted world aircraft fleets by Boeing CMO (red line) from 2000 to 2031 (with some gap years). For 2015 to 2031 the forecast was made 20 years ahead; for 2010-13 it was made 15 years ahead; for 2005-2008, 10 years ahead and for 2000-2003, 5 years ahead.
  • The published 20-year aircraft market forecast year by year.

World commercial aircraft fleet: forecast vs. actual (data source: Boeing CMO).

As you can fleets, forecasted fleets and market fleets have all been increasing year by year. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for each one has been:

  • Actual fleet growth: 3.73% from 1995 to 2011 (2.88% from 2000 to 2011).
  • Forecasted fleet growth: 3.55% from 2000 to 2031 (3.69% from 2000 to 2011).
  • 20-year market forecast: 5.07% from 1992 to 2012 (3.43% from 2001 to 2012).

It is interesting to see that in those years when there is both figures for actuals and forecasted fleets the figures are close (-3.3% average deviation) and so is the trend, though forecasted fleet was lower at the beginning of that period (-7.2% in 2000) and grew at a higher rate until almost matching the numbers in 2011 (+1.2%).

Even though, the 20-year market forecasts have grown at a higher rate than fleets, it is mainly because the first data that I could retrieve come from the economic crisis of the beginning of the 1990’s, when Boeing trimmed down its forecasts. From the 2000’s the figures for market forecast have grown at a similar rate than those of fleets. And so will be the growth of forecasted fleet from 2011 to 2031: 3.5%.

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Notes:

  • 1990 CMO long-term market forecast is made for 15 years, not 20.
  • Forecast of fleet for the periods 2000-2003, 2005-2008 and 2010-2013 does not come from CMOs published 20 years before, but from 5, 10 and 15-year fleet forecasts included in the CMOs of 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.
  • Boeing does not publish 5, 10 and 15-year fleet forecasts anymore.
  • It would be interesting to have a per-segment graphic, however there is not consistent data to produce it for the same time span. Boeing changed singe-aisle cut-off seat size from 1999-2000, in 1996-1997 and 2008 didn’t report the split within twin-aisle, in 2008 it also didn’t report the split within single-aisle.

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Aircraft market forecasts accuracy

In a previous post I wrote about how the predicted average aircraft size by Boeing in 1990 did not match the actual evolution of that average size since then. In a more general context, how accurate are these aircraft market forecasts? Especially taking into account that they forecast along a 20-year period.

I dug in the archives and found an article in Flight International‘s issue of 10-16 March 1993 which compared Airbus’ GMF and Boeing’s CMO (you can find 2012 comparison here). Some excerpts from that article:

  • “Boeing is projecting deliveries of 12,005 aircraft, worth $815 billion at current values, from 1993 to 2010.”
  • (Boeing) “The trend towards larger aircraft will accelerate so that, although single-aisle types will account for about two-thirds of all deliveries, they will comprise 74% of those up to 2000 and only 60% beyond.”
  • “Airbus Industrie has released an upbeat forecast, predicting market demand for 11,653 new jet airliners to be delivered during 1992-2011, up from the 11,500 deliveries predicted in 1991.”
  • (Airbus) “The manufacturer foresees an accelerating demand for widebodied aircraft, driving average airliner size from today’s 176 seats to 255 seats in 20 years.”
  • (Airbus) “The global jet-airliner fleet will grow to 10,000 by 1998 and to almost 15,000 by 2011.

Now, let’s see what was the fleet at the end of 2011. Seeing Airbus’ Global Market Forecast from 2012, the departing numbers are those of 2011 fleet.

  • Passenger aircraft: 15,556 a/c.
  • Freighter aircraft: 1,615 a/c.

Thus, 17,171 a/c at the end 0f 2011. The GMF from 1992 underestimated the 20-year market by slightly above 2,100 or nearly 15% error. Not a bad shot taking into account the time span used.

Let’s take a more recent example, this time from Boeing. In the CMO from 1997, we find the following chart showing Boeing’s forecasted fleet size and distribution for 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 year-ends.

1997 Boeing CMO year-end fleet forecasts for 2001, 2006, 2011 & 2016.

In 2012 CMO, Boeing offered figures of 2011 year-end fleet.

Fleet at year end 2011 according to Boeing 2012 CMO.

We can make a quick comparison:

Comparison of aircraft fleet at year-end 2011: 1997 forecast vs. actual (sources: Boeing CMO 1997 and 2012).

Some reflections:

  • The total fleet figure was missed only by 1%.
  • The single-aisle figure was missed only by 2%, though less larger single-aisle were acquired than expected.
  • Where the forecast is off mark is in both regional jets (underestimated) and twin-aisle, where there are almost 1,800 less aircraft in the current fleet than forecasted… another reason for Boeing to play down on A380 segment.

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NOTE: Figures of current fleet from Boeing and Airbus differ. Some causes: Airbus does not include figures for regional jets, and definitions between large aircraft and twin-aisle vary from one company to the other. Other than that, figures for freighters are similar, 1,615 (A) vs. 1,740 (B), as they are for passenger single-aisles, 12,161 (A) vs 12,030 (B).

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