Key Trends in the US Aircraft Industry

Key Trends in the US Aircraft Industry

The US civil aircraft industry is projected to continue growing through 2023, with shipments expected to reach a nominal value of more than $100 billion that year. In part, the growing volume of aircraft assembled in the US by Airbus will help boost output. That and other key trends in the US industry are outlined below.

Boeing Deals with 737 MAX Issues

The US aircraft industry has been negatively impacted by recent tragic events. The 737 MAX, the latest version of Boeing’s cash cow 737, has been grounded worldwide following two crashes (October 2018 and March 2019) that claimed the lives of all onboard. The incidents are believed to have been caused by faulty sensors and software, as well as inadequate instruments on the base model aircraft. The incidents have sparked concerns for how the aircraft – and all aircraft in general – are certified, foreshadowing potential long-term changes in the regulatory environment. The aircraft are expected to be allowed to fly again by October 2019, once the software is fixed and receives approval from regulatory agencies around the world.

While this episode has caused a delay in 737 MAX deliveries, most airlines with large orders for the aircraft have not canceled any planned purchases, as the aircraft are expected to be fixed. In addition, planning commercial aircraft purchases requires long lead times and training. Airbus and Boeing are the only major suppliers of large commercial planes in the world, and their production capacity is already booked with previous orders for a number of years into the future.

Airbus Continues to Grow US Assembly of Commercial Jets

Airbus will contribute to US shipments via its plant in Mobile, Alabama. In December 2018, Airbus announced that it had delivered 100 planes from the Mobile site since beginning US deliveries from that facility in 2016. In addition to the A320 family, Airbus plans to start assembly of the A220 aircraft at its Mobile site by the end of 2019 by adding a new assembly line. The presence of a new manufacturer of commercial jets is significant to the US industry, as list prices typically average $100 million per aircraft or more, providing a considerable boost to US shipments. However, the plane fuselages are in large part outfitted and assembled in Europe, and many parts are also shipped in from Europe, limiting the impact on the domestic supply chain for the aircraft industry.

Boeing & Airbus Continue Their Trade Dispute

Some acrimony has existed between the US and the European Union (EU) in matters relating to civil aircraft trade due to accusations that each party is subsidizing their respective industry leaders, Boeing and Airbus. A case from 2004 is still pending at the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, in April 2019 the Trump Administration threatened to impose tariffs on EU goods, including aircraft and other products, until it removes subsidies for Airbus that are not compliant with WTO rules. The EU has indicated that it would place tariffs on US civil aircraft in retaliation.

Learn More

For more insights into the US civil aircraft industry, see Civil Aircraft: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2023 US civil aircraft shipments and demand in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total shipments are segmented by type in terms of:

  • transport jets
  • business jets
  • helicopters
  • turboprop
  • piston

To illustrate historical trends, total shipments, total demand, the various shipment segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2008 to 2018.

The scope of this report covers new, completed civil aircraft. Excluded are sales of used aircraft as well as sales of individual engines and other parts. Unpowered aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones), military aircraft, and space vehicles are also excluded.

Related Focus Reports include:

About the Author

Leon Mengri is a Senior Market Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. He conducts research and writes a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.