Worldwide demand for new airplanes will soar over the next 20 years, with nearly 37,000 aircraft valued at $5.2 trillion needed, Boeing projected Thursday in its annual market outlook.
The forecast is 4.2 percent higher than last year, with the majority of growth rising from demand for single-aisle passenger jets, "the backbone of the airline market," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"The single-aisle market is the fastest-growing and most-dynamic segment due to the emergence of low-cost carriers," he said.
Nearly 26,000, or 70 percent, of the new airplanes needed will be narrow-body aircraft, according to Boeing's calculations.
Fueling demand for the single-aisle jets is projected growth in air travel in China, India and Latin America.
"Those carriers continue to grow and expand," Tinseth said.
He predicts China, the most populated nation on the planet, will overtake the U.S. domestic air travel market by 2033.
Small and medium wide-body, or twin-aisle, jets, including the 787 Dreamliner assembled in North Charleston, also will continue to be in demand, he said.
"I see robust demand, not less demand for small and medium wide-body aircraft," Tinseth said.
He projects nearly 8,000 small and medium wide-body jets will be needed over the next two decades, an increase of 150 aircraft from 2013 projections.
The small wide-body aircraft, with 200 to 300 seats, includes the 787-8, currently in production at Boeing South Carolina, and the 787-9, which will begin full assembly near Charleston International Airport this fall.
A decision on the production site for the 787-10, the largest jetliner in the fleet, has not been made. It is considered a medium wide-body based on seating capacity of between 300 and 400.
The market for larger wide-body jets, those with seating capacities above 400 such as the 747 and some 777 models, will decline over the next 20 years, Tinseth said.
"Fewer larger airplanes will be delivered," he said. "It's all about demand. That market has struggled to take hold."
Boeing projects 620 large wide-body jets will be needed by 2033, down 140 from last year's estimates.
"I think this adjustment is reflecting the realities in that market," Tinseth said.
The current single-aisle airplane now seats an average of 155 passengers, a number that will grow over the next two decades to about 160 seats, based on orders and deliveries, he predicted.
"There's no question the market is converging to this size, where network flexibility and cost efficiency meet," Tinseth said. "The Next-Generation 737-800 and the new 737 MAX 8 offer our customers the most revenue potential in this mid-sized space."
Boeing is building a plant in North Charleston to build engine inlet components for the 737 MAX. Production will begin in 2015.
Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad of StrategicAero Research said it is not surprising Boeing is forecasting growth in both the narrow-body and twin-aisle segments, especially for the 737 MAX, 787 and the 777X families.
"It's very telling that the very large airplane segment, comprising the 747 and (Airbus) A380, has actually fallen in size and value because of the shift toward more efficient twin-engine, twin-aisle airplanes like the 787 and 777X," Ahmad said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
Projected plane deliveries, 2014-33
|Small wide-body||200-300||4,520||$1.14 trillion|
|Medium wide-body||300-400||3,460||$1.16 trillion|
|Regional jets||Below 90||2,490||$100 billion|
|Large wide-body||Above 400||620||$240 billion|
Deliveries by region
|Russia/Commonweath of Independent States||1,330|