ISTAT: Boeing sees no change in aircraft retirement rate

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The economic life of commercial aircraft has not eroded despite recent anecdotal evidence of early retirements, a top Boeing official says today.

Boeing has been keeping close watch on its internal database of 31,000 in-service aircraft to detect any signs of faster early retirements.

"We really don't see any data that indicates that there's been a change in the economic useful life of aircraft," says Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president of marketing, speaking at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading.

Airbus and Boeing both assume that commercial aircraft fleets will operate for 25 years on average. That assumption is built into the models that determine new aircraft pricing, leasing rates and long-term demand.

Boeing's prediction that airlines will buy a total of 23,000 aircraft worth nearly $2 trillion depends on the 25-year service live average continuing into the next generation.

But that assumption has been challenged by recent reports showing some airlines parking older aircraft before they hit the 25-year benchmark.

Boeing, however, considers these reports to be anecdotal and not representative of wider industry trends, Tinseth says. As the increase in the installed base of the airliner fleet has grown so has the number of early retirements, but not at a faster rate, he adds.