Feb. 19, 2018, © Leeham Co.: The likely prospect that Airbus and Boeing will increase single-aisle production rates next decade is outlined in our paywall article today.
The whys and capabilities to do so are outlined in the paywall post. The how is what I’ve been writing about since the first of the year, when LNC looked ahead to its 2018 forecast.
The “how” is the transformation in production that is underway in aerospace.
I’ve written previously how automation, digitalization, additive manufacturing and 3D printing w2ill transform production. It’s critical to the business case of the Boeing “797” but it’s hardly exclusive to the airplane.
Elements of this transformation are already in place with the Big Four airframe and engine OEMs. It’s about precision and cost-cutting.
Transportation was the theme of the just-ended Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference. It is also the theme of the Airfinance Journal/Leeham Co. Southeast Aerospace and Defence Conference June 25-27 in Mobile (AL).
The importance of this design-and-production transformation can’t be overstated.
With production rates of the single-aisle airplanes increasing dramatically, joined by the announced rate increase for the Boeing 787 from 12 to 14/mo and the expectation that Airbus will bump the rate of the A350 to 13/mo from the 10/mo that will be achieved this year, even legacy programs are implementing new production techniques.
My sideline interviews at the PNAA conference also confirmed that some of these transformative production techniques are making their way onto low-rate production programs, like the Boeing 747-8 and 767/KC-46A.
These are not just the highly visible robotic machines on the assembly lines. Plastics that go into interiors or behind the sidewalls are now evolving into new manufacturing techniques.
The era of the highly repetitive, boring jobs performed by humans is being automated. This increases efficiency, accuracy and reduces the prospects of mistakes due to boredom.
The trade-off is fewer jobs in the functions involved. But the OEMs argue that the greater efficiency enables higher production which in turns creates more jobs, albeit in other functions.
This is why Airbus and Boeing can talk about production rates for single-aisle airplanes that were only dreamed about a decade ago—or even five years ago.
The PNAA conference included presentations and interviews hat detailed just some of the transformations that will happen in the coming years. I’ll be reporting from these in the coming weeks.