While Boeing has raised its forecast for high-capacity aircraft in its latest 20-year outlook, the airframer insists it has not changed its mind regarding their relatively limited appeal.

Its forecast from 2011-30 predicts demand for 820 aircraft in the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 category.

But vice-president of marketing Randy Tinseth said that this did not amount to a rethink on prospects in light of the 747-8 development.

"We look at the market objectively," he said. "We don't let the product strategy drive the forecast, we let the forecast drive the product strategy."

Tinseth said the reasons for the increase in the 2011-30 outlook, detailed today, included strong demand for high-capacity freighters as well as influences across the market which will nudge airlines into raising seat counts, even in the large aircraft segment.

He said the airframer has typically put the large aircraft forecast at 700-900 but pointed out: "Our track record is for continuously overestimating demand for big aircraft."

Tinseth also said that while Boeing had adapted its forecast in the segment, rival Airbus had "missed the boat by hundreds of aircraft".

Boeing predicts that the global fleet of large aircraft will rise from 770 today - including 450 passenger jets - to 1,140 in 2030.

"Nearly all the gain in large aircraft is coming from the freighter market," it said. "The large airplane passenger fleet will remain at approximately that level [of 450] over the long term."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news