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The net aircraft order intake is well below the number of deliveries.

By the end of August a total of 403 large commercial jets had been ordered, 253 cancelled and 776 delivered. For every net order there have been just over five deliveries. The backlog has not exactly plunged but it has dropped by 626 aircraft since the start of this year. There are currently 466 fewer single-aisles and 160 fewer widebodies on firm backlog order.

This year is turning into one of those slightly peculiar years that fortunately only happen every now and again. For a start, the aircraft order intake is way below the levels seen by the end of August last year. This time there have been gross orders for 221 single-aisle aircraft, 548 less than by the end of August last year. Gross widebody orders amount to 182, 91 fewer than by the end of last August. The total aircraft order intake of 403 aircraft is the lowest for the first eight months of a year since 2009.

The net order intake at the end of August works out at 50 single-aisles and 100 widebodies. At the end of August last year, the net single-aisle intake was 615 aircraft and the net widebody intake was 215 aircraft.

Delivery numbers have out-stripped the net order intake by a wide margin and consequently both the single-aisle and widebody aircraft backlogs have dropped. At the end of August the single-aisle backlog was the lowest since the end of November 2017 and the widebody backlog was just five aircraft larger than the most recent low, at the end of June. Only two single-aisle aircraft programs and four widebody aircraft programs currently have larger backlogs than at the start of the year. The A321neo backlog is 392 aircraft larger than at the start of the year but this is mostly because some customers have swapped their A320neo orders for the larger model. The A320neo backlog is currently 542 aircraft lower than at the start of the year, due to a combination of swaps, a relatively low order intake and a record number of deliveries.

Three of the four widebody aircraft backlog gains are in single figures and the 777X has the largest gain of any widebody program, up 18 aircraft. These are not exactly startling figures.

Now turn to deliveries. What the industry was expecting was another record year, certainly with far more single-aisle aircraft deliveries. Well, the bad news is that by the end of August the total number of new aircraft deliveries was the lowest for the first eight months of a year since 2012. This is due to far fewer single-aisle deliveries simply because there have not been any 737 MAX deliveries since mid-March.

The single-aisle aircraft delivery total so far is the lowest for the Jan-August period since 2011. There have been 191 fewer single-aisle deliveries this year than at the same point last year. This is despite the fact that Airbus has delivered record numbers of single-aisles this year. For the past five months Boeing has only been able to deliver 737 NextGens and monthly delivery numbers have been getting smaller to the extent that there was just one 737 delivery in August. Boeing is still building the MAX but completed aircraft cannot be delivered until the grounding is lifted so, instead, they are being parked.

It is a completely different picture when it comes to widebody aircraft delivery numbers. There have been 40 more this year than by the end of August last year and the total of 260 deliveries is just one short of the Jan-August record set in 2015. Airbus has delivered record numbers of widebody aircraft; a total of 100 by the end of August which is 15 more than at the same point last year. Boeing has so far delivered 160 widebody aircraft, 25 more than by the end of August last year. It is interesting to note that, for the first time, Boeing has delivered more widebodies than single-aisles. The U.S. manufacturer has also delivered more 737 NextGens than 737 MAX jets which was not supposed to happen. But Boeing's widebody total this year is 19 aircraft short of the company's Jan-August record set in 2015.

Fewer aircraft deliveries of course translate into fewer engine installs. As with aircraft deliveries, the total number of new engine installs is the lowest for the Jan-August period since 2012. By the end of August there had been 382 fewer single-aisle engine installs than by the end of August last year but 76 more widebody engine installs. The widebody engine install total of 538 is the second largest ever for the Jan-August period, after the 574 installs in 2015.

Phil Abbott.

Editor & Publisher