Forecast International Predicts $4.15 Trillion Large Jetliner Market Over 15 Years

by Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

Boeing and China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC) announced an order for 50 737 MAX airplanes at the 2017 Paris Air Show. Source: Boeing

According to projections from Forecast International’s Platinum Forecast System® 3.1, a total of 26,210 large commercial jetliners will be produced in the 15-year period from 2017 through 2031.  The value of this production is estimated at $4.15 trillion in constant 2017 U.S. dollars.

Airbus and Boeing are projected to divide the market nearly equally over the forecast timeframe, thus maintaining the duopoly that has long characterized this market.  Boeing is forecast to produce 12,399 large commercial airliners during the 15-year period, representing a 47.3 percent share of the market.  Airbus is projected to build 12,211 aircraft for a market share of 46.6 percent.  The remainder of the forecast production consists of a number of aircraft from other manufacturers, including the Bombardier CS300, the COMAC C919, and the Irkut MC-21.

Our market projections indicate that yearly production of large jetliners will increase from 2017 through 2020.  Annual production is forecast to increase from 1,512 aircraft in 2017 to 1,783 in 2020.  A cyclical downturn is expected in the 2021-2022 timeframe, with output falling to 1,600 aircraft in 2021 and 1,586 in 2022.  Production is projected to resume rising in 2023, with annual output reaching 1,863 aircraft by 2030 before falling to 1,817 aircraft in 2031.

Airbus is presenting a development study for an enhanced A380, the “A380plus”. The study includes aerodynamic improvements in particular new, large winglets and other wing refinements that allow for up to 4% fuel burn savings. Source: Airbus

Order rates for large jet airliners have slowed in the past couple of years, but this is not expected to translate into lower production rates in the near term.  Demand for new airliners is weakening due to economic concerns, political volatility, persistently low fuel prices, and slowing sales of soon-out-of-production legacy models.  However, Airbus and Boeing are largely protected from market fluctuations by their order backlogs, which represent more than eight years’ worth of production at current build rates.

Despite the slowdown in order rates, neither Airbus nor Boeing intend to reduce overall production in coming years.  They are, in fact, planning near-term increases in output for a number of models.  Airbus and Boeing are able to increase production, in the face of weakening demand, due in large part to the big order backlogs.  The two companies have also become skilled at such techniques as order overbooking and delivery slot reallocation, which help to avoid the need to reduce production as sales slow and cancellations increase.

Meanwhile, Airbus and Boeing are in the process of shifting from a period where their focus had been on the development of new products to a period where they are bringing these products into production and ramping up build rates.  Examples of these new aircraft are the Airbus A320neo and A330neo families and the Boeing 737 MAX and 777X series.

Most of the new products that are being introduced by Airbus and Boeing represent replacements for existing aircraft rather than additions to the companies’ product lines.  Managing the changeover from a family of popular legacy models to a line of new, improved versions can be one of the more difficult tasks that a manufacturer can undertake.  In the narrowbody segment, the sheer size of the order backlogs will enable Airbus and Boeing to simply continue increasing build rates over the next few years.  In the widebody segment, where sales volumes are lower, the task will be a bit more complex.  In both segments, though, the long-term outlook is positive.

Please feel free to use this content with Forecast International and analyst attributions, along with a link to the article. Contact Ray Peterson at +1 (203) 426-0800 or via email at ray.peterson@forecast1.com for additional analysis.


The Forecast International Civil Aircraft service covers all facets of the fixed-wing commercial and private aviation industry. It includes more than 70 detailed reports, complete with production forecasts on individual civil aircraft families. Four Market Segment Analyses provide in-depth examination of the markets for Large Commercial Jet Transports, Regional Aircraft, Business Jets, and General Aviation/Utility Aircraft. Included in the reports are production forecasts, a Forecast Rationale detailing the basis for the forecast, the aircraft’s price range and technical specifications, a program history, and recent developments.Forecast FI Logo