The campaign for market share between Airbus and Boeing is being fought on two fronts. In single-aisles, both airframers have adopted similar gameplans by re-engining existing models and – with bulging backlogs and plans to ramp up monthly production between now and the end of the decade – are in a head-to-head battle for market share. It is a race that Airbus is winning, both in terms of orders and being first to market. Its A320neo flew in September. By then, Airbus had logged 3,257 firm ¬orders, compared to 2,219 for the 737 Max.
In widebodies the situation is different, with Toulouse and Seattle adopting very different product strategies: Boeing launched its 777X a year ago and is offering two variants of its revamped large twin alongside three versions of its 787 Dreamliner.
Airbus – with a more limited range – has got the first version of its A350, the -900, into service ahead of the 777X. The larger -1000 variant will follow in 2017, but the smaller -800 has been cancelled. Instead, Airbus at Farnborough, attempted to fill that gap in the market with a re-engined A330neo.
Little movement has been recorded in the very large aircraft segment, with Airbus being forced to cancel an order for six A380s from struggling Japanese carrier Skymark but gaining a firm order for 20 aircraft from leasing company Amedeo. Boeing has received no orders in 2014 for the 747-8I, and only one for the 747-8F.
Bombardier is attempting to compete in the single-aisle market with its CSeries, which made its first flight in September 2013 but suffered a four-month interruption earlier this year due to engine problems. The larger Comac C919 has suffered further delays, but now seems on course for a first flight in the second half of 2015. Both types are pitched against the A320/737 families, as is the Irkut MC-21, now not due to fly until 2016 at the earliest.