Another shake-up, record sales and disillusionments are likely in store for the “middle” of the commercial air transport market—the 150- to 220-seat segment. But don’t count on next month’s Paris air show to provide a long-overdue clarification.

Boeing is no longer expected to announce anything, Airbus executives may just stress how good they are, Bombardier may have no CSeries orders to unveil, Comac and Irkut may remain mute, as usual, and Embraer is expected to stay in a cautious waiting mode.

In such a “no-news” context, financial analysts, consultants and lobbyists, as well as self-proclaimed experts, will provide the usual unsolicited comments in a joint effort to make confusion even more opaque. It seems that common sense is rapidly evaporating and contradictory statements are deepening uncertainty.

For example, EADS CEO Louis Gallois, a highly respected voice in the industry, believes that consolidation is needed to avoid a crowded playing field. He seems to be convinced that too many competitors will soon be chasing a relatively limited number of airline customers. The strong duopoly Airbus and Boeing established 15 years ago resulted from an uncontrolled sequence of events, not their choice. Now, they are preparing to face new entrants—China’s Comac C919, Russia’s Irkut MS-21, Canada’s CSeries and, perhaps, an increased-capacity Embraer E-jet. In the longer term, Japan and India could well join the queue, too.

Gallois is a veteran industrialist, well known for his pragmatism, but he is overreacting or expressing pessimism when only unsubstantiated worries are warranted. Let’s get to the point, as it was first expressed in the 1972 U.S. presidential campaign: “Would you buy a used car from this man?” In the air transport market today, it translates into something like: “Would a major carrier order next-generation commercial transports from a Chinese or Russian manufacturer?”

This is certainly not an insulting question: No one should be disdainful or underestimate the C919’s and MS-21’s capabilities. But airlines buying new aircraft to rejuvenate or expand their fleets do much more than acquire machine tools that produce seat-miles. They conclude long-term agreements based on product superiority and reliability as well as superior, worldwide product support.

Airbus and Boeing do more than develop and sell state-of-the-art, short/medium-haul twinjets; they also market means to operate their products in the most efficient way. This is basically why the newcomers, as attractive as they look on paper, will need a decade-long probation before they achieve genuine credibility. In other words, they must make domestic customers happy long before they can expect to secure orders in the open market.

Similarly, technology transfers, a much-debated issue, involve serious misunderstandings. Both the C919 and MS-21 largely rely on Western savoir faire. They will be powered by U.S. or Franco-American engines and use onboard systems as well as major pieces of equipment such as flight decks or landing gear provided by U.S. or European suppliers.

But we are talking here about end products. The Western players’ design capabilities will not be sent abroad, exclusive of Comac’s ambitious plan to develop a domestic engine tentatively expected to counter Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G and CFM International’s Leap-X. Their plan may not be unrealistic, but lots of patience will be required before it evolves into an industrial reality.

In the shorter term, much will depend on Boeing’s strategy. The Boeing 737, which originally appeared in the late 1960s and was remarkably well upgraded over four decades, is obviously nearing the end of an industrial cycle. But could an all-new aircraft appearing around 2020 supersede the emerging competitors? Airbus may have the correct and simple idea in re-engining the Sharklet-equipped A320 series at minimal cost. After all, engine manufacturers are taking care of the big bills.

In the end, the Airbus-Boeing duopoly may well survive much longer than expected. And Gallois’ suggestion that consolidation is required could prove unfounded.