Commercial Aircraft programs duration from launch to delivery over the years

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By Vincent Valery


June 20, 2022, © Leeham News: New airplane programs used to come to market in four years. Now, the launch-to-entry-into-service period has been seven years or more. (Chinese and Russian programs take even longer.)

Boeing launched the 787 in December 2003. EIS was October 2011. Airbus’ A350, launched in response to the 787 in 2004, went through several iterations which added time to the program. Delays added more time. EIS was in January 2015.

Bombardier’s C Series was launched in 2008. EIS was in July 2016. The Boeing 777X was launched in 2013. EIS is now targeted for 2025. Boeing launched the 747-8 in 2005. EIS was in 2011. The Boeing 737 MAX was launched in July 2011. EIS was May 2017. Airbus’ A320neo was launched in December 2010. EIS was in January 2016.

Boeing has been discussing the New Midmarket Airplane (or whatever it was called throughout changing nomenclature) since 2012. It still hasn’t launched the program. Once it does, how long will it take to enter service?

Credit: Boeing

Any new program is a multi-year, multi-million investment that, in the worst case, can take decades before recovering the initial development and production ramp-up expenditures.

Several recent programs, notably the 777X, have faced significant delays between the envisioned and actual start of deliveries to airlines.

Boeing claims that advances in manufacturing techniques will reduce the time required to develop the next aircraft program. However, regulatory scrutiny is higher nowadays and the aircraft built are more complex than in previous generations.

LNA analyzes how the time between the program launch and entry into service has evolved since the beginning of the Jet Age. The goal is to find whether there is a trend and in what direction. The analysis focuses on Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell Douglas.

  • An unmistakable trend;
  • The latest clean sheet designs took significantly longer;
  • Engine development dictates recent derivative program timelines;
  • Future program considerations.

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