PARIS 2009: Boeing's Carson sees growth returning mid-2010

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Scott Carson is optimistic of escaping the downturn without further production rate cuts.

"It feels like we're bouncing off the bottom," said Carson, speaking during the Boeing's commercial aircraft briefing during the Paris Air Show.

Citing the latest economic data that Boeing tracks, he adds: "It feel to us like the middle of next year is when we will see growth return to the industry."

However he caveats his upbeat outlook with the warning that "there is certainly no certainty in being able to predict the future".

Carson says that Boeing continues "to review both the upside and the down" of production, evaluating customer needs and whether to increase or decrease rates.

"If the economic conditions have bottomed and there is a recovery and the available capital to support it, then I think we have a shot at getting through and holding the rates where they are," he adds.

Speaking specifically about changes to the production rates for its freighter products, Carson says the next six months "will be incredibly important to us as we watch to see if inventory rebuilding begins, which I believe it will, and whether it is maritime or air freight".

He adds: "If that takes place [with air freight] then it feels like we can manage the risks there."

The airframer's near-term outlook for commercial aircraft is less rosy, however, with Carson conceding that the industry faces "a different year" in 2009 to the preceding boom-times that enabled Boeing to build a backlog worth $265 billion.

"The value of the backlog built over the last three or four years is going to be realised [this year] in delivery of that backlog, not the generation of it," he says.

So far in 2009 Boeing has booked 73 new orders, but suffered 66 cancellations - the bulk of which are for the 787 - putting its net sales tally at just seven aircraft.