VLA and the Airbus-Boeing forecasts

Boeing has had a long run in the spotlight, given the tanker award and protest and the Goldman Sachs report predicting another six month delay for the 787.

For a change, let’s take a look at the Airbus and the A380.

Airbus predicts a market of nearly 1,700 passenger and cargo airplanes in the Very Large Aircraft (VLA) category in its new forecast issued this year. Boeing forecasts 960 VLAs in its market outlook issued last year. Each prediction is for a 20-year period, or 2027 for Boeing and 2028 for Airbus.

The math is pretty simple: to achieve 1,700 VLA sales under the Airbus forecast (and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Boeing or Airbus, both the A380 and 747-8 are VLAs), this is an average of about 85 sales a year beginning this year.

To achieve the 960 figure from Boeing beginning last year, that means an average of 48  VLA sales a year.

Airbus predicts 30 sales for the A380 this year. Boeing hasn’t made a public prediction for the 747.

It’s pretty clear Airbus is just a tad short.

For comparison, Boeing has sold 1,522 747s since the first order in 1966, 42 years ago. That’s an average of 36 a year, and this started when the 747 had a monopoly for a few years as the world’s first jumbo jet–and maintained a monopoly on trans-ocean routes until the DC-10-30/40 and L-1011-500 began making serious inroads.

We’ve always thought Boeing’s forecast of only 300-400 sales of the A380 was woefully inadequate. But we’ve also thought  the Airbus forecast of 1,700 VLAs in 20 years was wildly optimistic.

The math certainly suggests as much.

1 Comments on “VLA and the Airbus-Boeing forecasts

  1. Scott

    Math on 20-year forecasts should factor in the targetted or assumed market share for each of the two competitors, which we always publicly set at a prudent 50% – thus targetting ~ 600 passenger aircraft (if setting the freighters aside for a moment, which is of course what Airbus Executive Committee did for our own A380F). Hence … 30 A380 sales a year, acc to your calculation, our sales target for 2008 as you mention. We all know sales targets are meant to be challenging, so this is the challenge, albeit when averaged over 20 years and with the cumulative effect of traffic growth / capacity requirement kicking in, a reasonable one in my opinion.

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