Aviation industry downturn may have a silver lining for jetliner avionics manufacturers

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

There seems to be a lot of bad news out there in the commercial aviation industry, which revolves around Boeing's report this week of a 50 percent reduction in first-quarter profits, and that the company also must reduce production of its widebody passenger jets because of weakening demand.

There seems to be a lot of bad news out there in the commercial aviation industry, which revolves around Boeing's report this week of a 50 percent reduction in first-quarter profits, and that the company also must reduce production of its widebody passenger jets because of weakening demand.

The aviation industry is hurting because the economy's on the ropes, homeowners are defaulting on mortgages, and folks are worried about losing their jobs. As a result, they're just not flying on commercial airlines as much as they used to, and airlines and aircraft manufacturers are feeling the pinch.

Airlines throughout the world are delaying deliveries of new aircraft they have ordered from Boeing, Airbus, and other airplane makers because right now there are too few passengers to put in the seats available. Furthermore, airlines are grounding some aircraft in their fleets because of sluggish passenger demand.

Sounds bad for the avionics industry, doesn't it? Maybe, but maybe not. The potential for avionics upgrades to existing aircraft may be the silver lining to this black cloud of the aviation economic downturn.

It's pretty clear that things will be tight in the avionics business for a while, but passenger aviation is bound to start picking up eventually. When it does, some aircraft operators may find it cheaper and faster to upgrade the avionics on grounded aircraft and put them back into service than to wait for new aircraft manufacturing to crank back up.

Not only that, but emerging requirements for NextGen satellite navigation and GPS-based air traffic control also will increase demand for avionics upgrades for existing commercial aircraft.

When we're ready to succumb to gloom and doom about the near-term prospect for new aircraft manufacturing, remember there are still a lot of aircraft out there waiting to get back into service. New avionics upgrades may be the way to make that happen very quickly.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4

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