Photo credit: Adobe Stock

At the beginning of 2019, the U.S. government was in partial shut-down, interest rates were rising, stock markets were highly volatile, and a majority of business leaders surveyed by the Associated Press expect a recession this year. But you didn’t hear such doom-and-gloom from the aerospace community. In the final weeks of last year, Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer confirmed orders for more than 400 jetliners. And, despite engine shortages and other supply-chain challenges, Airbus and Boeing delivered record numbers of aircraft – and each has seven or more years of production to work off a 13,450 airplane backlog.

Airbus is building a new final assembly line
in Mobile, Alabama to produce A220s for U.S.
customers. Photo credit: Airbus SES

All those orders translate to jobs. Airbus is seeking about 600 experienced aircraft structure/installation mechanics, aircraft cabin installers, and aircraft electricians to work on the assembly line it’s building in Mobile, Alabama, to produce A220 regional jets – formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries. A recent Washington state aerospace job fair drew more than 1,500 prospective candidates to meet with nearly 40 companies looking to hire. Plans to continue ramping up build rates will require more production efficiency from suppliers.

Airbus delivered 800 aircraft in 2018 (20 of those were A220s via Bombardier) with 747 net orders. (See commercial aircraft production table for comparison.)

Airbus is producing A320 family single-aisle jetliners at the rate of 52 per month, with plans to go to 60 or more. 

For 2018, Boeing booked 893 net orders valued at $143.7 billion – after finalizing 203 airplane sales in December, of which 181 were 737 MAX. Boeing increased production of the 737 in the middle of 2018 from 48 to 52 airplanes per month and plans an increase to 57 per month in 2019. 
Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, says, “Another year of healthy jet orders continues to support our long-term forecast for robust global demand that will see the commercial airplane fleet double in 20 years.”

Embraer’s delivery summary for 2018 was not available at press time, but at the end of Q3 2018, the company had delivered 112 aircraft: 57 E-jet commercial airliners of all types and 55 executive jets (40 light, 15 large). Its commercial jetliner firm-order backlog stood at 251, valued at $13.6 billion, on Sept. 30, 2018. Embraer officials still expect 85 to 95 commercial jet deliveries for the year but have revised down the estimate for executive jets to 91 from 105 to 125, citing the global market for executive jets is recovering more slowly than expected.

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, 777, and 737MAX offerings
Photo credit: Boeing

For 2019, company officials forecast deliveries of 85 to 95 commercial jets, 90 to 110 executive jets (light and large), 10 A-29 Super Tucano military trainer aircraft, and two multi-mission KC-390 cargo aircraft. With corporate and government approvals in hand, officials expect its 20/80 commercial join venture with Boeing to close by year’s end. 

In 2018, Bombardier gave control of its CSeries (now A220) regional jet to Airbus, sold its Dash 8 Q Series turboprop aircraft program to Longview Aviation Capital Corp., and sold its business aircraft’s flight and technical training activities to CAE. The transportation company is focusing aviation efforts on its CRJ regional jets; Challenger, Global, and Learjet business aircraft brands; and aerostructures and engineering services. Data on 2018 deliveries and orders were not available at press time. 

F-35As at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Lockheed Martin continues to increase Joint Strike Fighter production rates and lower unit costs.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force