Editor’s comment: Planning for the future

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

Airbus has set out its stall to boost value to its customers and achieve US$10 billion in service revenues from commercial aviation over the next 10 years.

According to the airframer’s new Global Services Forecast, the worldwide market for commercial aircraft services from 2018 to 2037 will hit the $4.6 trillion mark. Of this eye-watering amount, the passenger experience will account for an estimated $0.9 trillion cumulative value over the 20-year period.

This encompasses the services needed to optimise the flight experience, including cabin upgrades, cabin crew training, in-flight entertainment, connectivity and booking. This segment is expected to more than double in the next 20 years and grow from $27 billion to almost $70 billion. A notable trend is that seamless connectivity will undergo exponential growth, as more and more passengers manage their travel using a smart device, providing them with all the information in real-time about the airport, connecting flights, bag collection details and so on.

One common denominator across all the services which Airbus will increasingly cultivate is ‘digitalisation’, with many solutions being interconnected and integrated. These solutions will create additional value for airlines, lessors and MRO companies, for instance by allowing real-time decision making, or by optimising flight and maintenance operations through analytics.

Rival Boeing is equally bullish about the future, with its Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) forecasting the need for 42,730 new jets – valued at $6.3 trillion – over the next 20 years. The global airplane fleet will also sustain growing demand for commercial aviation services, leading to a total market opportunity of $15 trillion.

“The commercial airplane business fuels an enormous ecosystem of service providers. Our combined forecast shows the full picture of the $15 trillion commercial market ahead of us,” said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of Commercial Marketing for Boeing. “We see a market in which airlines outsource more and more, a market in which data and data analytics help aircraft and airline networks become more efficient and reliable, and a market in which new technologies provide new services solutions. All of these trends drive greater demand for integrated solutions over the life of an airplane.”

For its part, Embraer is forecasting demand for 10,550 new aircraft in the up-to-150-seats market worldwide, worth $600 billion, over the next 20 years. The in-service fleet is set to increase to 16,000 aircraft, up from the 9,000 aircraft currently in operation. Market growth will drive 65% of this demand, while the remaining 35% will replace ageing aircraft.

Whilst region-specific outlooks vary considerably, efficiency and sustainability remain the underlying drivers of the projected market demand. The up-to-150-seat segment will form an ever more integral part of the global air transport ecosystem.

It’s a good thing then that all three manufacturers announced a series of firm orders and commitments during this year’s Farnborough Airshow, in the magnitude of millions of dollars.

Image: The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating nearly 4,700 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide. Projections show both numbers will continue to grow significantly.

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