Pontifications: JADC 20-year forecast: VLA, NMA and other data

By Scott Hamilton

July 24, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The Japan Aircraft Development Corp (JADC) just published its 2017-2037 jet and turboprop forecast. JADC forecasts a demand for 33,336 jet airliners and some 2,000 turboprops.

JADC is partly owned by Mitsubishi, which is developing the MRJ70/90 and which is on several Boeing programs.

I like the JADC forecast because it segments the seating categories in more detail than Airbus and Boeing and somewhat differently than Bombardier and Embraer.

I also view JADC as having less of an axe to grind than the Big Four OEMs.

A couple of quick take-aways:

VLA still needed, NMA coming into focus
  • JADC still sees a need for more than 600 Very Large Aircraft (VLA), the more-than-400 seat category Boeing dumped in its 2017 Current Market Outlook. Airbus still claims a demand for some 1,400 VLAs. I’ll talk about this more below.
  • There’s a need for 1,900 jets in the 100-119 seat sector. This is solid Bombardier (CS100) and Embraer (E190) territory. Airbus and Boeing need not apply.
  • JADC segments the 120-169 seat sector, something neither Airbus nor Boeing does. This remains the “heart of the market,” with a forecast of more than 13,000 jets.
  • The next step up, 170-220 seats, has a demand for nearly 6,400 jets, JADC says. This is about one-third of the primary single-aisle market.
  • The 230-308 and 310-399 seat sectors are broken out by JADC. Again, this is something Airbus and Boeing don’t do—and with the New Midrange Aircraft for the Middle of the Market sector potentially around the corner, this data is important.
  • Turboprop demand fell year-over-year in the JADC forecast—and the 90-seater is gone.

Very Large Aircraft

For decades, the Boeing 747 and later the Airbus A380 have been associated as “Very Large Aircraft.” Boeing steadily reduced its forecast of the VLA category while Airbus largely kept its forecast between 1,200 and 1,700, depending on the year.

Boeing eliminated the VLA category this year from its Current Market Outlook. Airbus retains the category. In a surprise, Airbus told me at the Paris Air Show that its VLA forecast is not limited to the 747 and A380 but includes any aircraft delivered with more than 400 seats. Airbus cited as an example the A330-300 delivered to Cebu Pacific with 436 seats. It would also include the Boeing 777-300ERs delivered to Air Canada with 456 seats, an example not cited by Airbus but which qualifies under this definition.

The 777-9, nominally at 407-425 seats in three-class configuration, would be a VLA under the previous Boeing definition but for reasons that defy logic, Boeing refused to so categorize the 777-9, instead lumping it in with the Large Twin-Engine transport sector.

JADC retains the >400 category but its forecast is about half that of Airbus, at 627 jets.

Middle of the Market or Small Twin-Aisle

Boeing seems headed on a path to launch the so-called Middle of the Market airplane next year. It’s generally defined as 220-270 seats. Boeing says the “Small Twin-Aisle” sector has a demand of 4,000-5,000 aircraft but refuses to publicly specify how much of this is for the MOM aircraft, also known as the New Midrange Aircraft or 797.

JADC’s forecast defines the smaller twin-aisle as 230-309 seats—close to the NMA description, but not precisely so. Its forecast for this sector is 3,877 aircraft. It’s logical to reduce this figure to more precisely fit the NMA definition, but by how much?

100-119 Seats

Another reason I like the JADC forecast is that it segments the 100-119 seat category. This fits nicely the Bombardier CS100 and Embraer E190. Neither Airbus nor Boeing offer an airplane in this category (take note, US Department of Commerce), nor at this point do Sukhoi or Mitsubishi offer an airplane in this size.

JADC sees about 1,900 aircraft will be required over the next 20 years in this sector. BBD and EMB should retain the lion’s share of the market even as Sukhoi and Mitsubishi ponder entering this sector.

Turboprops: what 90-seater?

JADC eliminates the already small previous demand for a 90-seat turboprop from its forecast. It also reduces the total demand from last year.

The company sees the 60-79 seat turboprops (ie, ATR-72 and Bombardier Q400) absorbing the previous demand for 90-seaters (fewer than 300). Small jets will also take up the demand, such as it was.

The demand now filled by the ATR-42 is a miniscule 199 aircraft over 20 years, JADC forecasts.


18 Comments on “Pontifications: JADC 20-year forecast: VLA, NMA and other data

  1. Interesting analysis. Are the seat count categories for the actual seat numbers in each plane or standardized for the model?

    Presumably the largest 120-169 seat category includes the A320 and 737-800 models, but LCCs who buy a lot of those models will fit more seats onto their planes.

  2. Scott,

    JADC is the company established by the three Japanese Heavies (Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Fuji) to coordinate the development of the participation in the different Boeing programs starting with the 767, then the 777 and now the 787 and 777-X. Maybe their view of VLA is closer to the Airbus definition (over 400 seats) than that of Boeing…..

  3. Airbus and Boeing Astonish:

    Well suddenly Airbus decides its pax not size of aircraft and whalla, we have a winner for the numbers. I call BS on their new spin.

    Boeing then flips and refuses to call the 777-9 a VLA despite its 400+ seating (and how many could you seat in a CEBU configuration, 60-0-?). Also BS.

    On the slip side, going by pax number is misleading and not having the aircraft range compounds that.

    And who is flying it? I remember the seat numbers for Ethiopian when they came out and it was accompanied by the common sense statement. This will be a route from Beijing to Addis Ababa. For the most part slender bodies.

    Trying to pigeon hole aircraft is an exercise in futility.

    Single aisles are now flying transoceanic routes.

    We need a better system or just give it up.

    • usable passenger deck area – defined to mean the # of current industry minimum dimension seats (17.2″ wide * 28″ pitch) you can cram in to the plane while still meeting all regulatory aisle width and emergency exit requirements.

      cargo volume (measured in cubic meters)

      payload/range graph

      this model would likely favor boeing aircraft as they have been (generally) designed around supporting 17.2″ wide seats while Airbus aircraft have not, so using 17.2″ seats in an airbus aircraft results in a lot of dead space..

      Since Airlines don’t give Airbus extra credit for this, why should any standardized measurement system?

    • Ethiopian uses a standard 9 across in economy for its 777’s, the total of 393 is just because of a small business class, same goes with 270 in their 788’s.
      No need to be any smaller width seats than the most other western carriers, so the comment ‘slender bodies’ is ludicrous

      • Note the Australian LCC Jetstar has 335 seats in its 788’s , ‘Slender bodies ?
        I dont think so.

        • Jetstar can make an A320 uncomfortable on a 1 hour trip. Hate to think of 9 hours long haul!

          • I hear AirAsia has A330-300 with 377 seats (with even slender bodies). They fly pretty far too.

          • That Jetstar A320 issue would be because they dont have a decent seat recline. I was in one for over 4 hrs! Its surprising how much difference that alone makes.

        • dueofurl: That was the comment in Av Week.

          At the time I had no way of comparing various selections.

    • It’s not Airbus spin and I’m disappointed in Scott’s “surprise”, since I think I pointed out the other time he was “surprised” recently that Airbus has always – and I mean always – defined VLA as 400+ seats. Maybe that was on Airliners.net and not here.

      In any case I can recall debate about the differences between Airbus’ and Boeing’s definitions of the term right back to the early 2000s. It is *not* new.

      • @Someone: Airbus and Boeing always used the A380 and 747 to represent the VLA market. The idea of a 400-seat A330 or 777 came long, long, long after the definitions were set. The 777-300/ER didn’t even exist in 2000 and the A330-300 was a medium range airplane. In all my talks with Airbus and Boeing, nobdy ever talked about configuring 777s and A330s with >400 and qualifying these as VLAs. Not Leahy, not his sales force, not Enders, not Tinseth, Conner, Albaugh and certainly not Corp Com.

        At one point I specifically asked Airbus Corp Com how the company could continually forecast 1,200-1,700 VLAs every year since 2000. The forecast kept moving to the right. The reasons: 9/11, SARS, the Middle East, etc etc. Not once-repeat, not once–was the explanation offered about >400 seat 777s and A330s.

        Hence the surprise at Paris when Airbus trotted out this explanation.

        • I agree with you,Scott. In every discussion regarding VLA, both Boeing and especially Airbus only said 747 and A380. Ever. Which is why everyone laughed at Airbus and Airbus defenders when they continually had that 1700 aircraft forecast.

          They 777, a350, and A350 inclusion is only away to make the forecast work.

          • I confess I haven’t been able to find when the definition became 400 seats… however it has always been seats.

            According to http://www.people.hbs.edu/besty/Esty_Airbus_Boeing.pdf (2002) the VLA definitions for Airbus and Boeing in 2000 were 500 seats and 400 seats respectively.

            So I agree that Airbus’ definition has changed (in number – but I can’t find when… if the 747 is being included then it must have been soon after 2000) but I disagree that it used to be *defined* as the A380 and 747 – these were mentioned as illustration.

        • Havent airlines replaced their 747s mostly with B777-300ERs ? Qantas who didnt, still fly their late model 747-400ERs with around 365 seats, United are ( finally) pulling the last of their 747s and doing it with 366 seat 77Ws.
          400 seats seems to be setting the bar a bit higher than the 365 seat level, but why not.

  4. Stilll useful data, once its weighted with a more pessimistic global outlook. 400+ passenhers in a Cebu A330. If you sae the state of Manilla airport you wouldn’t be surprised.

  5. The only reasonable “measurable unit” is floor space in square foot or meters.

    And you know immediately where you are. How many seats are put inside has nothing to do with the prediction and plane type. We have huge differences in amount of people in various setups.
    We might see B739 with more people than B788 or similar A321 with more than A332 etc. so…….

  6. I find the 120-169 seat forecast interesting, considering the Bombardier and Embraer aircraft in this category haven’t been selling very well. Either customers are taking a wait and see approach or these numbers are too high.

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