Supply Chain Matters highlights the announcement from Airbus setting aggressive aircraft production and delivery targets for 2024.

This announcement is noted as again taking an extended industry lead from rival Boeing.

2024 Production Goal

This week, commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus established a goal to deliver upwards of 800 commercial aircraft this year. This target represents a 10 percent increase from the 735 aircraft delivered to airline and leasing companies in 2023.

In January, this plane maker’s order backlog had reached 8,598 aircraft, which when equated to the 2023 delivery performance, represents an estimated 11.7 years of order backlog.

The European plane maker further indicated that plans are established to reach its highest ever monthly production rates in 2026. The existing goal includes a target for the production of 75 aircraft monthly for its A320 neo family of aircraft by 2026.

The announcement comes as arch competitor Boeing continues to reel from a further set of developments related to quality and inspection shortcomings related to the narrow aisle, 737 MAX aircraft family.

Extending An Industry Lead

Business and investment media have observed that with this week’s announcement, Airbus is making a further effort to increase the competitive gap with Boeing.

In its reporting of the Airbus production increase goal, The Wall Street Journal cited a London based aerospace analyst as declaring: “It’s no longer a duopoly.” The implication is that Boeing has significant business and competitive challenges to overcome.

As a result of the Alaska Airlines cabin blowout incident, the FAA has placed a current restriction on Boeing 737 MAX monthly production levels, pending ongoing audits of Boeing internal and major supplier production and quality control processes.

The current rate of Boeing 737 MAX production is 35 aircraft per month. In addition, Boeing has upwards of 100 previously produced aircraft that have to undergo a series of added inspections and changes before they are certified for delivery.

In the light of Boeing’s increased production challenges, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury was quick to make an observation regarding this company’s engineering, quality and safety culture: “Be afraid of what could go wrong. It cannot be quantity over quality, we don’t deliver a number of planes, we want to deliver a number of planes that are of high quality and are safe.”

 

Airbus Supply Chain and Product Quality Challenges

As Supply Chain Matters has noted in our commercial aircraft industry supply chain focused commentaries, Airbus has its own set of supply network challenges.

The most visible has been the Pratt & Whitney geared-turbo aircraft engine that is an option for the A320 neo family, which has been experiencing premature internal component failures. That has necessitated a recall of hundreds of engines for internal inspections and potential internal component replacement. Upwards of 400 aircraft, consisting of one-third of the Pratt GTF engines in operational service were reportedly grounded this month because of the need for such inspections and rework.

The European based producer continues to deal with the loss, along with the added need for highly experienced workers internally, and across the supplier network.

This week, Airbus senior management again reiterated that the plane maker continues to work with Pratt to ensure that there will be adequate supply of GTF engines to support new aircraft production as well as spare engine needs.

Commenting on ongoing supply chain challenges, the Airbus CEO indicated to investors and press:

We carefully assess and target what I call the sweet spot, which is the best balance between demand and the ability of our supply chain to deliver, while of course—and that’s very important—maintaining the highest safety standard in our industry.”

The above statements will be closely watched by this industry’s supplier and services provider participants over the coming months.

Added Perspectives

Ten plus years of order backlog spans new product development, not to mention added technological cycles. All of this is why our research arm has included within our 2024 Predictions for Industry and Global Chains Advisory, an industry-specific prediction that includes  commercial aircraft supply networks, along with global semiconductor and automotive supply networks. Each represents their own unique set of transformational challenges with high business stakes.

 

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