The numbers are impressive. On current plans, Airbus and Boeing together will produce almost 1,900 airliners in 2018, up from just over 1,400 this year and more than double the number of aircraft the “Big Two” delivered a decade earlier, in 2008. Add Bombardier and Embraer, and more than 2,100 commercial aircraft could be delivered in 2018. And that number could grow by 2020, as new Chinese and Russian aircraft enter the mix.

Increasing production by 500 aircraft a year in just three years will put enormous pressure on a global supply base that all the manufacturers draw from. But the ramp-up will also drive lasting changes in how commercial aircraft are built, to achieve the higher production rates efficiently and sustainably—and with the flexibility to accommodate temporary rate cuts. That means more automation.

In this issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, we take a closer look at the challenges manufacturers and programs face as they ramp up. Beyond increasing production, Airbus and Boeing must also renew their product lines without disrupting output during the transition to the reengined A320neo and 737 MAX. Neither wants a repeat of Boeing’s production meltdown in 1997 as the 737 “Classic” line was transitioned to the NG.

Manufacturers must also keep selling their current products during these transitions, to avoid a drop-off in production that makes ramping up the new model more difficult. For Airbus, it is keeping the A330 line healthy until the A330neo enters production in 2018. For Boeing, it is keeping the 777 line rolling until the new 777X is ready in 2020. Embraer faces a similar challenge in keeping its E-Jets sold until deliveries of the next-generation E2 family can begin in 2018.

Bombardier’s challenge is different. The CSeries is the Canadian manufacturer’s first large commercial aircraft; there is no transition between generations. Instead, by 2018, Bombardier must build up to a rate that burns down its launch-order backlog quickly without “over-ramping” to a level of output that cannot be sustained by the still-unproven pipeline of new orders.

In units, the numbers on the defense side are not as impressive, but in dollar terms they are significant. The Pentagon plans to more than triple annual production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to 150 aircraft a year by 2020, including international orders. Boeing looks set to continue building the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at least until 2019, while it steps up production of the P-8 Poseidon to provide export capacity and begins producing KC-46A Pegasus tankers.

In Europe, Dassault has gone from facing reduced Rafale fighter production for France to an 84-aircraft backlog with three new export customers. At the same time, expecting to have to survive on civil sales, the French manufacturer has expanded its large-cabin business-jet line with the new Falcon 5X and stretched Falcon 8X. Saab must also gear up to produce the JAS 39E/F Gripen for Sweden and Brazil beginning in 2019, while hoping to continue selling the JAS 39C/D to bridge the gap.

Airbus still faces a challenge putting the A400M airlifter into full production with full capability and, along with partners BAE Systems and AleniaAermacchi, faces an end to Eurofighter Typhoon production by 2018 unless additional orders are secured. No new major military aircraft programs are planned in Europe, but in the U.S. award of the 80-100-aircraft Long-Range Strike Bomber program this year and 350-aircraft T-X trainer program, potentially in 2017, could change the shape of the industry.

The aircraft engine industry is often considered an indicator of the health of the aerospace supply chain, because its figures are accessible. And in both numbers and rates, enginemakers’ challenges are considerable and the solutions similar. General Electric/Snecma joint company CFM International plans to raise production to more than 1,800 engines a year by 2020, from 1,550 in 2014, while transitioning from today’s CFM56 to the Leap-1 for the A320neo, 737 MAX and Comac C919. Pratt & Whitney plans to ramp up to 1,500 PW1000G geared turbofans a year by 2020 and, like CFM, is counting on multiple assembly sites to meet the challenge. PW1000Gs will be assembled at Pratt sites in the U.S. and Canada and MTU in Germany. For CFM, engines are assembled at four GE sites in the U.S. and Snecma in France. With a big ramp-up in production for the A350 and A330neo, Rolls-Royce is likewise rebalancing Trent large-turbofan family assembly and testing between the U.K., Germany and Singapore.