Boeing and Airbus
The Boeing Company (pronounced /ˈboʊ.ɪŋ/ BOH-ing) is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation. Founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington, the company has expanded over the years, and merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing moved its corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, Illinois, in 2001.
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In March 1910, William E. Boeing bought Heath’s shipyard in Seattle on the Duwamish River, which later became his first airplane factory. Boeing was incorporated in Seattle by William Boeing, on July 15, 1916, as “Pacific Aero Products Co.”. Boeing, who studied at Yale University, worked initially in the timber industry, where he became wealthy and acquired knowledge about wooden structures. This knowledge would prove invaluable in his subsequent design and assembly of airplanes. On July 27, 1929, the 12-passenger Boeing 80 biplane made its first flight. With three engines, it was Boeing’s first plane built with the sole intention of being a passenger transport. An upgraded version, the 80A, carrying eighteen passengers, made its first flight in September 1929.
In 1958, Boeing began delivery of its 707, the United States’ first commercial jet airliner, in response to the British De Havilland Comet, French Sud Aviation Caravelle and Soviet Tupolev Tu-104, which were the world’s first generation of commercial jet aircraft. With the 707, a four-engine, 156-passenger airliner, the US became a leader in commercial jet manufacture. A few years later, Boeing added a second version of this aircraft, the 720, which was slightly faster and had a shorter range.
As passenger air traffic increased, competition was harder, mainly from Airbus, a European newcomer in commercial airliner manufacturing. Boeing had to offer new aircraft, and developed the single-aisle 757, the larger, twin-aisle 767, and upgraded versions of the 737.
After several decades of success, Boeing lost ground to Airbus and subsequently lost its lead in the airliner market in 2003. Multiple Boeing projects were pursued and then canceled, notably the Sonic Cruiser, a proposed jetliner that would travel just under the speed of sound, cutting intercontinental travel times by as much as 20 percent. It was launched in 2001 along with a new advertising campaign to promote the company’s new motto, “Forever New Frontiers”, and to rehabilitate its image. However, the plane’s fate was sealed by the changes in the commercial aviation market following the September 11 attacks and the subsequent weak economy and increase in fuel prices. With delays to Airbus’ A380 program several airlines threatened to switch their A380 orders to Boeing’s new 747 version, the 747-8. Airbus’s response to the 787, the A350, received a lukewarm response at first when it was announced as an improved version of the A330, and then gained significant orders when Airbus promised an entirely new design. The 787 has encountered delays in coming to production, with the first flight not occurring until late 2009, more than two years late. Production will be increased to 10 Boeing 787s per month by 2013.
Boeing has also introduced new extended range versions of the 737. These include the 737-700ER and 737-900ER. The 737-900ER is the latest and will extend the range of the 737–900 to a similar range as the successful 737–800 with the capability to fly more passengers, due to the addition of two extra emergency exits. The 777-200LR Worldliner embarked on a well-received global demonstration tour in the second half of 2005, showing off its capacity to fly farther than any other commercial aircraft. On November 10, 2005, the 777-200LR set a world record for the longest non-stop flight. The plane, which departed from Hong Kong traveling to London, took a longer route, which included flying over the U.S. It flew 11,664 nautical miles (21,601 km) during its 22-hour 42-minute flight. It was flown by Pakistan International Airlines pilots and PIA was the first airline to fly the 777-200LR Worldliner.
The company produced and markets the first commercially viable fly-by-wire airliner, the Airbus A320, and the world’s largest airliner, the A380. History Airbus Industrie began as a consortium of European aviation firms to compete with American companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Lockheed.
Formation of Airbus Industrie
Airbus Industrie was formally established as a Groupement d’Interet Économique (Economic Interest Group or GIE) on 18 December 1970. It had been formed by a government initiative between France, Germany and the UK that originated in 1967. The name “Airbus” was taken from a non-proprietary term used by the airline industry in the 1960s to refer to a commercial aircraft of a certain size and range, for this term was acceptable to the French linguistically.
The Airbus A300 was to be the first aircraft to be developed, manufactured and marketed by Airbus. By early 1967 the “A300” label began to be applied to a proposed 320 seat, twin engined airliner. In 1972, the A300 made its maiden flight and the first production model, the A300B2 entered service in 1974; though the launch of the A300 was overshadowed by the similarly timed supersonic aircraft Concorde. Initially the success of the consortium was poor, but orders for the aircraft picked up, due in part to the marketing skills used by Airbus CEO Bernard Lathière, targeting airlines in America and Asia. By 1979 the consortium had 256 orders for A300, and Airbus had launched a more advanced aircraft, the A310, in the previous year. It was the launch of the A320 in 1981 that guaranteed the status of Airbus as a major player in the aircraft market – the aircraft had over 400 orders before it first flew, compared to 15 for the A300 in 1972.
Development of the A380
In mid-1988 a group of Airbus engineers led by Jean Roeder began working in secret on the development of an ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA), both to complete its own range of products and to break the dominance that Boeing had enjoyed in this market segment since the early 1970s with its 747. The project was announced at the 1990 Farnborough Air Show, with the stated goal of 15% lower operating costs than the 747-400. Airbus organised four teams of designers, one from each of its partners (Aérospatiale, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, British Aerospace, CASA) to propose new technologies for its future aircraft designs. In June 1994 Airbus began developing its own very large airliner, then designated as A3XX. Airbus considered several designs, including an odd side-by-side combination of two fuselages from the Airbus A340, which was Airbus’s largest jet at the time. Airbus refined its design, targeting a 15 to 20 percent reduction in operating costs over the existing Boeing 747–400. The A3XX design converged on a double-decker layout that provided more passenger volume than a traditional single-deck design.
Five A380s were built for testing and demonstration purposes. The first A380 was unveiled at a ceremony in Toulouse on 18 January 2005, and its maiden flight took place on 27 April 2005. After successfully landing three hours and 54 minutes later, chief test pilot Jacques Rosay said flying the A380 had been “like handling a bicycle”. On 1 December 2005, the A380 achieved its maximum design speed of Mach 0.96. On 10 January 2006, the A380 made its first transatlantic flight to Medellín in Colombia. On 3 October 2006, CEO Christian Streiff announced that the reason for delay of the Airbus A380 was the use of incompatible software used to design the aircraft. Primarily, the Toulouse assembly plant used the latest version 5 of CATIA (made by Dassault), while the design centre at the Hamburg factory were using the older and incompatible version 4. The result was that the 530 km of cables wiring throughout the aircraft had to be completely redesigned.
Although no orders had been cancelled, Airbus still had to pay millions in late-delivery penalties. The first aircraft delivered was to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007 and entered service on 25 October 2007 with an inaugural flight between Singapore and Sydney. Two months later Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choong Seng said that the A380 was performing better than both the airline and Airbus had anticipated, burning 20% less fuel per passenger than the airline’s existing 747-400 fleet. Emirates was the second airline to take delivery of the A380 on 28 July 2008 and started flights between Dubai and New York on 1 August 2008. Qantas followed on 19 September 2008, starting flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles on 20 October 2008.
Competition from Boeing
Airbus is in tight competition with Boeing every year for aircraft orders. Though both manufacturers have a broad product range in various segments from single-aisle to wide-body, their aircraft do not always compete head-to-head. Instead they respond with models slightly smaller or bigger than the other in order to plug any holes in demand and achieve a better edge. The A380, for example, is designed to be larger than the 747. The A350XWB competes with the high end of the 787 and the low end of the 777. The A320 is bigger than the 737-700 but smaller than the 737–800. The A321 is bigger than the 737–900 but smaller than the previous 757-200. Airlines see this as a benefit since they get a more complete product range from 100 seats to 500 seats than if both companies offered identical aircraft. In recent years the Boeing 777 has outsold its Airbus counterparts, which include the A340 family as well as the A330-300. The smaller A330-200 competes with the 767, outselling its Boeing counterpart in recent years. The A380 is anticipated to further reduce sales of the Boeing 747, gaining Airbus a share of the market in very large aircraft, though frequent delays in the A380 program have caused several customers to consider the refreshed 747–8.
Airbus has also proposed the A350 XWB to compete with the fast-selling Boeing 787 Dreamliner, after being under great pressure from airlines to produce a competing model. There are around 5,102 Airbus aircraft in service, with Airbus managing to win over 50 per cent of aircraft orders in recent years. Airbus products are still outnumbered 3 to 1 by in-service Boeings (there are over 4,500 Boeing 737s alone in service). This however is indicative of historical success – Airbus made a late entry into the modern jet airliner market (1972 vs. 1958 for Boeing). Airbus won a greater share of orders in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, Airbus achieved 1111 (1055 net) orders, compared to 1029 (net of 1002) for the same year at rival Boeing However, Boeing won 55% of 2005 orders proportioned by value; and in the following year Boeing won more orders by both measures. Airbus in 2006 achieved its second best year ever in its entire 35 year history in terms of the number of orders it received, 824, second only to the previous year. In August 2010, Airbus announced that it was increasing production of A320 airliners, to reach 40 per month by 2012, at a time when Boeing is increasing monthly 737 production from 31.5 to 35 per month. Airbus aircraft numbering system
The Airbus numbering system is an alpha numeric model number followed by a dash and a three digit number. The model number often takes the form of the letter “A” followed by a ‘3’, a digit, then followed normally by a ‘0’, for example A380. There are some exceptions such as: A318, A319, A321 and A400M. The succeeding three digit number represents the aircraft series, the engine manufacturer and engine version number respectively. To use an A320-200 with International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500-A1 engines as an example; The code is 2 for series 200, 3 for IAE and engine version 1, thus the aircraft number is A320-231. An additional letter is sometimes used. These include, ‘C’ for a combi version (passenger/freighter), ‘F’ for a freighter model, ‘R’ for the long range model, and ‘X’ for the enhanced model.
Competition between Airbus and Boeing
Competition between Airbus and Boeing is a result of the two companies’ duopoly in the large jet airliner market since the 1990s, a consequence of mergers within the global aerospace industry over the years. Airbus began as a consortium from Europe, whereas the American Boeing took over its former arch-rival, McDonnell Douglas, when the latter became defunct and merged with the former in 1997.
Other manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin and Convair in the United States and British Aerospace, Dornier and Fokker in Europe, have pulled out of the civil aviation market after economic problems and declining sales Airbus and Boeing since the end of the 1990s possess a duopoly in the global market for large commercial jets comprising narrow-body aircraft, wide-body aircraft and jumbo jets. However, Embraer has gained market share with their narrow-body aircraft in the Embraer E-jets series. There is also a similar competition in regional jet manufacturing between Bombardier Aerospace and Embraer. In the last 10 years (2002–2011), Airbus has received 7,181 orders while delivering 4,218, Boeing won 6,360 orders while delivering 3,871. Competition is intense; each company regularly accuses the other of receiving unfair state aid from their respective governments.
Competition by product
Though both manufacturers have a broad product range varying from single-aisle to wide-body, they do not always compete head-to-head. As listed below they respond with slightly different models. The Airbus A380, for example, is substantially larger than the Boeing 747. The Airbus A350 competes with the high end of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Boeing 777. The Airbus A320 is larger than the Boeing 737-700 but smaller than the 737-800. The Airbus A321 is larger than the Boeing 737-900 but smaller than the previous Boeing 757-200. The Airbus A330-200 competes with the similar Boeing 767-400ER and the Boeing 777-200ER.
Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747
Cross-section comparison of Airbus A380 versus Boeing 747-400 The wide-body Boeing 747-8, the latest modification of Boeing’s largest airliner, is notably in direct competition on long-haul routes with the A380, a full-length double-deck aircraft now in service. For airlines seeking very large passenger airliners, the two have been pitched as competitors on various occasions. Following another delay to the A380 programme in October 2006, FedEx and the United Parcel Service canceled their orders for the A380-800 freighter. Some A380 launch customers deferred delivery or considered switching to the 747-8 and 777F aircraft. Boeing’s advertising claims the 747-8I to be over 10% lighter per seat and have 11% less fuel consumption per passenger, with a trip-cost reduction of 21% and a seat-mile cost reduction of more than 6%, compared to the A380.
The 747-8F’s empty weight is expected to be 80 tonnes (88 tons) lighter and 24% lower fuel burnt per ton with 21% lower trip costs and 23% lower ton-mile costs than the A380F. On the other side, Airbus’ advertising claims the A380 to have 8% less fuel consumption per passenger than the 747-8I and emphasizes the longer range of the A380 while using up to 17% shorter runways. In order to counter the perceived strength of the 747-8I, from 2012 Airbus will offer, as an option, improved maximum take-off weight allowing for a better payload/range performance. The precise size of the increase in maximum take-off weight is still unknown. British Airways and Emirates will be the first customers to take this offer. As of April 2009 no airline has canceled an order for the passenger version of the A380. Boeing currently has only three commercial airline orders for the 747-8I: Lufthansa (20), Korean Airlines (5) and Arik Air (2).