After 110 years, aviation is not advancing as rapidly as it once did, at least on the surface. But 2013 saw several significant developments in aerospace, and 2014-15 will see new airliners and fighters enter service, key development tests of manned space transports and, potentially, suborbital passenger flights.

In the year just ended, the first all-new narrowbody airliner in more than 25 years made its first flight, an unmanned aircraft made the first catapult launches and arrested landings on a carrier and a scramjet-powered vehicle made the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight yet. Bombardier's CSeries, Northrop Grumman's X-47B and Boeing's X-51A were among the highlights of an eventful 2013.

Orders have driven the fortunes of Airbus and Boeing through 2013, with firm totals now exceeding 2,500 for the A320neo, approaching 1,700 for the 737 MAX and passing 1,000 for the 787, while the A350 is catching up. But 2014 will turn on execution as the A320neo enters flight testing, 787-8 production ramps up, the A350-900 and 787-9 enter service and the 787-10, 777X and A350-1000 advance in development. Execution also will be critical for Bombardier's CSeries and Comac's C919 as they bid to compete.

As December drew to a close, Airbus had booked more than 750 orders for A320neo in 2013, and Boeing more than 560 orders for the 737 MAX—an intake that is not expected to be repeated in 2014-15. But the next two years will put to the test Bombardier's belief that airlines will come back for a smaller 110-160-seat aircraft once they have secured the delivery slots needed to renew and expand their core 180-seat fleets—if the CSeries performs on its promises.

Execution remains critical also for Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most complex aircraft yet attempted in software, integration and programmatic terms. While the program still faces challenges, solid progress was made in 2013, although the schedule overruns and cost escalations have jolted industry into recognizing it needs better practices and tools for engineering complex systems, particularly after similar experiences with the F-22. New U.S. Air Force long-range bomber and Navy carrier-based unmanned aircraft programs will test the defense community's willingness to exercise requirements and development discipline.

Momentum behind the shift from government to commercial space transportation also will be highly dependent on execution. Cargo resupply services to the International Space Station are now in place, but developing a capability to transport astronauts is a tougher task, and key abort-system and other tests—by NASA and the private sector—need to succeed in 2014 to stay on track. The year ahead also will be crucial for NASA's development of a heavy-lift capability to conduct manned missions beyond low Earth orbit.

Aerospace & Defense 2014 has been prepared in part with analysis and data from Forecast International Inc. in Newtown, Conn. For more comprehensive market information, visit forecastinternational.comContact Ray Peterson, vice president for research and editorial services, at +1 (203) 426-0800 or ray.peterson@forecastinternational.com