DOHA, QATAR — Boeing's CEO warned that the aerospace sector might grapple with supply disruptions extending over five to six years, potentially causing setbacks in deliveries to airlines and slowing down the industry's recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

"We're looking at supply constraints for a considerable duration," CEO Dave Calhoun stated during a panel discussion at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on Tuesday, where he was joined by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. "Given our backlogs extend 5 to 6 years, if those backlogs hint at supply constraints for that duration, it suggests even longer-term implications."

Aircraft manufacturers have found it challenging to boost production amidst a high demand from airlines for new jets to cater to the surge in travel. Limited component availability has impeded production rates as Boeing and its European competitor Airbus are striving to expand output. Calhoun anticipates that it will take around a year and a half for the industry to achieve stability before it can significantly escalate production levels.

Al Baker pointed out that besides delaying new jet deliveries, supply constraints pose a problem for existing fleets, obliging airlines to ground some aircraft requiring spare parts, ranging from engines to avionics.

"All these are repercussions of the pandemic," Al Baker explained.

Calhoun forecasted that neither Boeing nor Airbus will construct a brand-new aircraft model until 2035 as necessary propulsion systems won't be accessible any sooner to justify substantial investments needed to enhance fuel efficiency by 20% to 30%.

The executives ruled out the possibility that hydrogen-powered aircraft could be accessible in the near future to fulfill the industry's net-zero carbon goals. Instead, they anticipated this technology won't be fully developed until the second half of this century. Until that point, they maintained, the industry will have to rely on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which is chemically akin to regular jet fuel but doesn't necessitate further petroleum extraction.