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 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 monstrous size of 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. On the other hand, 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.
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.
Within the aircraft-producing duel, many companies are invested in Boeing or Airbus. For instance, General Electric, Goodrich, and Thales -- an information systems manufacturer -- hold multi-billion dollar contracts with Boeing. These firms create, supply, and assemble all sorts of airplane parts, ranging from engines to landing systems. On the other side of the industry, Airbus has signed billion dollar agreements with transportation and logistics giant DHL as well as engine producer Honeywell International However, a handful of suppliers are engaged on both sides of the industry. Aviation systems producer Rockwell Collins and electric/landing systems manufacturer Goodrich make parts for both Airbus and Boeing.
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 (freight model) 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. Total lost earnings from Airbus delays are estimated to be $6 billion. 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).
Airbus announced its first six-month schedule delay in June of 2005, followed by two further delays in June and October of 2006. Their schedule delays consisted of pushing back delivery dates and number of plane shipments. The company cites internal wiring problems as well as airline customizations as the main cause for the initial delays. However, on October 3, 2006 Airbus announced a newly restructured production and delivery schedule, aiming to reach their full production rate of 45 planes per year in 2010.
However, Boeing has its fair share of delays as well. April 9, 2008 saw Boeing delay its production and delivery schedule for the Dreamliner a fourth time, making for a 3Q2009 debut. In the Dreamliner's case, Boeing blames unspecified design flaws as the culprit, resulting in $4.1 million in penalty payments as of July 2008. The seemingly continuous delays are damaging the reliability of Boeing. On August 7, 2008, Boeing lost its first 787 order as Azerbaijan Airlines reduced its original order from three to two.
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 A300's larger size as the main deciding factor, but multiple delays on the initial release and first commercial flight certainly did not help.
Within the aircraft industry face-off, many companies do business for both Boeing and Airbus. Several companies have major contracts with both sides, including:
However, many companies benefit with one side of the duopoly, or hold larger contracts with one of Boeing and Airbus. Firms that are on either side of the fence include:
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||---|