If the extent to which the commercial aircraft supply landscape has changed was not fully apparent, the then-and-now environment became crystal clear at the Farnborough Air Show.

Airbus was able to boost its total show orders and commitment tally with a 60-aircraft MOU for the newly-named A220. Before Airbus took a majority stake in what was the Bombardier CSeries aircraft program, that deal would have been credited to the original Canadian designer and manufacturer. But in July, the freshly-painted A220 sat on the static park outside the Airbus chalet in blue and white livery to match its expanded aircraft family.

Assuming Boeing is able to complete its deal, announced just before Farnborough, to take an 80% stake in Embraer’s commercial aircraft and services business, then by Le Bourget in June 2019, sales of Embraer jets will be included in Boeing’s show tally.

The consolidation from four to two airliner OEMs is not, of course, as drastic as it sounds. Airbus and Boeing have long held a duopoly in the narrowbody and widebody markets. Nibbling on the outsides of the regional jet markets, COMAC, Mitsubishi and Sukhoi have established niche customer bases, while ATR has a firm following in turboprop markets. But the newest, larger Bombardier and Embraer jets were by far the closest challenge to the narrowbody markets that are dominated by the A320 and 737 families. Now they will be sold as lower-end extensions to the market, focused on routes best suited for 100- to 150-seat airliners.

That’s good news for the A220 and the E-Jet E2, which are excellent aircraft, and for the airlines worldwide that can exploit growing demand for high-quality service on regional routes. The Airbus and Boeing deals help secure the futures of those aircraft and the airlines that can, given the right equipment and cost base, operate them efficiently and competitively in niche markets.

But where Airbus and Boeing must tread carefully is in how they use their newly-reinforced duopoly in terms of long-term maintenance and service agreements. It’s no secret that each OEM, taking a cue from the engine providers, sees its best revenue growth potential in service and support sales. Intense pressure from the airlines and lessors to provide the lowest possible aircraft price makes the follow-on service agreement sale all the more compelling.

With new-generation aircraft, however, it’s all about the data; control access to the data and you control the process, and are best-positioned to profit from its outcome.

Airbus and Boeing should be wise in wielding such power and ensure a fair price for access to those that will maintain the global MRO industry’s health and competitiveness--including those airline customers that operate their own aftermarket support businesses. This duopoly should not evolve into a data-opoly.