The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the aerospace industry forcing airlines to ground at least 80% of their fleet.

Fighting for survival, airlines have either cancelled or deferred new aircraft orders directly impacting aircraft manufacturers. The COVID-19 situation may call for changes in aircraft designs, though, to win the confidence of flyers and comply with the social distancing norms.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess whether airlines surviving the COVID-19 crisis in the aviation industry will extend the life of their older model aircraft or invest in aircraft with newer designs.

Analysis of the results shows that airlines are more likely to extend the life of older models rather than investing in newer designs.

A majority 41% of the respondents opined that airlines will extend the life of existing aircraft, while 24% of the respondents felt that airlines will use a mix of older aircraft and newer design aircraft.

Whereas 35% respondents voted that airlines will invest in aircraft with newer designs.

COVID-19 investment in new aircraft designs

The analysis is based on 385 responses received from readers of Verdict’s Aerospace technology site between 04 May and 22 June.

Design changes key to achieving social distancing

Social distancing, which has been key in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus, is often difficult to be maintained in closed environments such as an aircraft and increases the operating costs for airlines.

Design firms across the world are coming up with new seat designs to enable physical distancing without permanently altering the cabin interiors.

Airline manufactures are also offering solutions that can convert passenger aircraft for carrying cargo. Airbus, for example, developed a modification that enables airlines to install freight pallets into the cabin after removal of the cabin seats.

However, financial losses to airlines would mean extended cost control measures by airlines and hence lesser interest in newer aircraft designs except those required to surviving the crisis.