The world’s jetliner fleet should top 39,500 aircraft in 10 years, as a wave of new deliveries—overwhelmingly narrowbody twins—combines with a somewhat slower retirement rate to expand the in-service fleet by an annual rate of about 3%, according to Aviation Week’s latest Fleet & MRO Forecast.
The 2014 forecast predicts that more aircraft will be in service by 2023 than had been projected in last year’s forecast, and those aircraft will fly more, with utilization projected to increase by 4%. Retirements will slow as overall fleet age falls, and deliveries will continue at a torrid pace until around 2018 as the so-called “bow wave” of replacements subsides in favor of a more natural growth and replacement cycle.
Deliveries during the 10-year forecast period through 2023 are expected to reach just a shade more than 17,000 aircraft, while the forecast projects that some 7,500 aircraft will retire during that period.
Even though this trend still represents a relatively high retirement rate and reflects retirements at somewhat younger ages than has been historically true, it is revised downward from last year’s forecast by about 5%. The projection continues to assume that more aircraft will go straight to part-out than did in the past, and at younger ages, at least in the medium-term.