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Within one of the larger duopoly industries, the Boeing-Airbus aircraft battle wages on with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and Airbus' A380. Marred by production delays, significant backlogs, and rising fuel prices, the rivalry is as intense as ever.
With this new issue in the plane production competition, Boeing and Airbus split ways on their fuel-conserving strategies. With the A380, Airbus aims for a new level of airborne mass transit as it opted for two decks each with dual isles and a total carrying capacity of over 520. The A380 family is designed for longer trips and more passengers, seeking fuel-conservation by consolidation. However, Boeing explored a handful of roles for its three 787 Dreamliner planes (its first new planes since 1995). While the 787-3 is modeled for large capacity-short distance, the 787-8 and 787-9 look to provide smaller capacity-longer distance aircraft.
Though these new airplanes will prolong the deep-rooted rivalry of Boeing and Airbus, the niches of the A380 family and 787 Dreamliner group do not completely overlap. Boeing's 787-3 is closest in statistics to the A380, yet the A380 has over one and a half times the capacity and nearly three times the range. Moreover, with smaller and more fuel-efficient planes in the 787-8 and the 787-9, Boeing avoided direct competition with the A380. The fact that Boeing and Airbus took diverging paths with their new aircraft installations means that perhaps the two can coexist in niche roles.
Filled with its share of large backlogs and production/delivery delays, the A380-787 Dreamliner battle may very well be won by the company who can best fulfill their contracts.
Slated to be released in 3Q2009 Boeing's Dreamliner has a large backlog to address. As of July 28, 2008 Boeing has 896 total orders for all three Dreamliner designs (787-3, 8, and 9). The six largest orders include the International Lease Finance Corporation (74), Quantas Airways (65), All Nippon Airways (50), Air Canada (37), and Ethiad Airways (35) and Japan Airways (35).
The Airbus A380, whose first commercial flight occurred in October 2007, also has a hefty order count of 192 planes as of August 7, 2008. Note that this count includes only the A380 model, and not the A380F as production delays and backlogs forced Airbus to focus on the commercial A380. However, this release came after two years of their own delays and nearly €5 billion over budget. The top 6 A380 orders come from: Emirates Ariline (58), Quantas Airways (20), Singapore Airlines (19), Lufthansa (15), Air France (12) and British Airways (12).
However, the seemingly endless delays for the Dreamliner hurts Boeing's competitive position. For instance, on March 1, 2008, the US Air Force announced that it would enter into a $40 billion contract with Airbus and Northrop Grumman, a military and defense aircraft parts manufacturer, over the domestic company Boeing. The USAF cited the A380's larger size as the main deciding factor, but multiple delays on the initial release and first commercial flight certainly did not help. Moreover, on August 7, 2008, Boeing lost its first 787 order as Azerbaijan Airlines reduced its original order from three to two.
Within the aircraft industry face-off, many companies do business for both Boeing and Airbus. However, a handful of companies benefit with every plane sold, including:
Below is a chart comparing the statistics of the Airbus A380 family and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family.
|Airbus A380||Airbus A380F||Boeing 787-3 Dreamliner||Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner||Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner|
|Capacity (seats/aircraft)||555 (max 840)||N/A||290-330||210-250||250-290|
|Flight Speed (mph)||680||680||650||650||650|
|Max Takeoff Weight (metric tons)||560||590||165.1||219.5||244.9|
|Max Fuel Capacity (Liters)||310,000||310,000||126,917||126,917||138,898|
|Max Fuel Efficiency (km/Liter)||0.049||0.034||0.045||0.120||0.113|
|Entry into Service||October 2007||---||---||3Q2009||---|