Threat to freighters as parts shortages hobble airlines, manufacturers and MRO
Buoyed by strong passenger demand, airlines have ramped up their schedules aggressively for the summer ...
Boeing deliveries bounced back in Q1, an encouraging development for the aircraft manufacturer – but rival Airbus fell behind due to supply chain and quality issues.
Airbus trailed, at 127 deliveries to Boeing’s 130, in the first three months of the year, a year-on-year reversal of fortunes after Boeing’s dismal Q1 22 performance of just 95 deliveries to Airbus’s 142.
Pressure has been mounting on Boeing after it reported losses of $5bn last year, on the back of a host of quality control issues. Encouragingly, however, deliveries of the 737 increased to 113 in Q1 23, versus just 86 in Q1 22.
Meanwhile, in Q1 there were 11 deliveries of the troubled B787 Dreamliner, before they stopped again in late February due to issues with the forward pressure bulkhead. Production had halted over the same quarter last year, following the FAA putting a stop to new deliveries in mid-2021.
But this year has seen the first delivery of a B767-300 freighter, which experienced technical difficulties. The Loadstar previously reported that three Maersk 767-300Fs had been grounded for safety reasons.
The problem was later revealed to be issues with a fuel tank coating that was peeling off and blocking the aircraft’s fuel filter, threatening to cut fuel supply. The problem has dogged 767s since the coatings supplier was switched last year.
To date, FedEx Express has taken delivery of one 767-300F and has another 26 on order, while 27 are still to be delivered for rival UPS. Other freighter deliveries include four 777Fs to companies in China.
Airbus, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that deliveries of its A350 jets were at just five by the end of March, whereas, according to the company, some 14 had been delivered by this point last year. Some 440 A350s remain on order.
“Hopes of achieving deliveries in the high 130s in the first quarter were hit by continuing industrial and supply chain problems that have most recently spread to premium widebody cabins,” Reuters reported.
Recent airworthiness directives for Airbus aircraft from the European Aviation Safety Agency point to flaws in procurement and build quality “which threaten catastrophic results if left unchecked”. In March alone, these included incomplete production processes on A330 parts, as well as cracks reported in aluminium forged parts on A350s.
Bucking a trend set by other European businesses at the beginning of this year, Airbus is doubling its capacity in China in response to its now-swelling backlog, bringing production to around eight aircraft a month, with the goal of increasing deliveries this year to 720.
Airbus spokesperson Stefan Schaffrath told The Loadstar: “A slow January is not unusual, and we are still catching up with the aircraft we missed in January. But the deliveries in March are above expectations, with 61 deliveries. One quarter does not make the full year. The trend is shifting, and we are building on this trajectory.”
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