Engine manufacturer and partner CFM equipped three-quarters of the Airbus and Boeing aircraft delivered last year

The rivalry between Airbus and Boeing intensified during 2007 as the US airframer upped its production to almost match its rival, and ended the year ahead in net order terms. But the battle between the engine manufacturers was just as cut-throat, with market leader GE Aviation and its partner CFM International extending their market lead in 2007.

This detailed analysis of the 2007 Airbus and Boeing delivery and order data (by aircraft unit) using the Flight ACAS database reveals that GE- and CFM-powered aircraft represented 76% of all 894 deliveries (see graph 1). This was a six percentage point increase on 2006 when it was already dominating with a 70% overall share (Flight International 20-26 February 2007). The 2007 increase came through a three percentage point increase each in CFM and GE's share of the total to 62% and 14% respectively.

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"This reflects the advantage of having the backing of one of the world's two largest leasing companies in the form of GE Commercial Aviation Services," says Richard Aboulafia, vice-president analysis at Teal Group.

In overall terms, International Aero Engines was the second biggest engine supplier behind CFM, with a 16% share, but this was a two-point decline despite the increased level of A320 production.

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GE's creeping share-gain is reflected in graph 2 which shows all long-range mid-size wide-bodies (A330/A340 and 777), where it has increased its share from 46.4% in 2006 to 58.6% in 2007. This was largely at the expense of Rolls-Royce, which had been a close second in 2006 with a 41.7% share but declined to 27.8% last year due to the reduction in A340-500/600 deliveries.

GE is benefiting from being sole supplier on the 777-200LR/300ER which was the most numerous variant in this category last year with 63 deliveries. When types where sole-source applies are ignored (ie A340 and 777-200LR/300ER), R-R remains the most popular supplier in delivery terms with a 41% market share (see graph 3). However this has declined from 48% in 2006, while the overall number of twinjets delivered where there is a choice of engine suppliers has remained static at 88 aircraft.

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R-R has seen its overall share of deliveries fall to from 8% in 2006 to 5% in 2007 and it is unclear when it will end its slide in fortunes. The UK engine company will benefit from the ramp-up of A380 production and the introduction of the 787 next year, but only a brave analyst would predict a strong rebound in A340-500/600 sales where it is sole supplier. So for R-R, the A350 XWB - where it is currently the only engine supplier - cannot come quickly enough.

"R-R's main problem is that the Pacific Rim is its traditional area of strength but the airlines there are favouring the 777-300ER at the moment," says Aboulafia. "R-R - and a lot of European aerospace - is going to have take the blow with the fact that A340-500/600 is a market failure and hope that the A350 is a success."

Every 737 delivered is powered by CFM engines, giving the GE/Snecma joint venture an instant market share advantage as the Boeing twinjet accounted for over a third of all airliner deliveries last year. However, CFM has also seen gains in its battle with IAE on the A320 - a market in which it has traditionally been the market leader anyway - boosting its share from 57% in 2006 to 62% (see graph 4).

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Last year also saw the first deliveries of A318s powered by the engines of IAE partner Pratt & Whitney, which is the only alternative to the CFM56 on that model as the V2500 is not offered.

Aboulafia questions whether CFM might have gained on the A320 as it is less vocal about step-change engine technology than one of the partner companies at its rival IAE: "Perhaps with P&W being the strongest advocate of new engine technology, potential IAE customers are put off by concerns that the V2500 might be replaced by the GTF," he says.

The result of GE and CFM's single-supplier agreement on Boeing's two most numerous products, the 737 and 777-200LR/300ER, has pitched its share of the US airframer's overall production to a staggering 97% in 2007 (see graph 5).

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The GE/CFM share of Boeing production has been steadily rising since 2001, breaking the 90% mark in 2006. The GE share will start to reduce as 787 deliveries come on line as R-R also competes on this airframe.

Over at Airbus, the GE/CFM share has also reached the highest for a decade at 57%, underlining their strength on both airframers' products.

The top five customers accounted for around a quarter of 2007's total deliveries, with lessor International Lease Finance leading the way again having received 10% of all Airbus production last year. The leasing company took the equivalent of one new Airbus or Boeing aircraft every four days last year. In second place is GECAS, as it was in 2006.

Significantly two of the 2007 top five - Southwest and Ryanair - are all-Boeing operators and accounted for 16% of the airframer's production between them.

Airbus and Boeing saw their backlog grow by 37% during 2007 to just under 6,850 aircraft at year-end - split almost 50/50. The two customers that head the top ten backlog ranking are in the reverse order of table 1, with GECAS displacing the previous year's leader ILFC, although neither company is ranked first in the airframers' individual listings. Those honours - as last year - go to China (CASG) at Airbus and Ryanair at Boeing. In fact no lessor appears in the Airbus top five (ILFC is ranked sixth last year with 97 orders, having been second in 2006 on 141).

Europe overtook the Pacific Rim as the single biggest market for new aircraft last year (by nationality of operator rather than customer), with a 29% share of total deliveries, against 28% for the 2006 market leader, which declined four percentage points (see graph 6). Asia also made gains, with its share increasing from 6% to 9% while the Middle East declined two points to 4% and North America's share remained static at 29%.

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Airbus was market leader in its home market - which is also its biggest single region - were it delivered 157 aircraft (18% of its total deliveries). The largest proportion of Boeing's shipments (127 aircraft/14% of its total) went to airlines based in the Pacific Rim where the US airframer was the lead supplier. Boeing also out-delivered its rival in Africa and Asia, and unsurprisingly in its home market North America, while Airbus led the way in the Middle East and South America.

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Airbus increased its reliance on narrowbodies in 2007, with the A320 family accounting for over 80% of its deliveries compared with 78% the year before (graph 8).

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The reverse is true for Boeing, which saw its narrowbody share decline from 77% of its total in 2006 to 75% last year. The shifts partly reflect the changing fortunes of the A340-500/600 and the 777, as well as the delayed introduction of the A380 which should start to have a bearing on the Airbus widebody ratio from this year.

P&W began offering CFM some competition on the A318 in 2007

Market leaders - Ryanair is Boeing's biggest customer by backlog, while CFM dominated deliveries last year

Source: Flight International