Farborough Air Show, July 16: Snipe hunts in an era of model improvements

  • Upate, 5:30am PDT: The Wall Street Journal has an article that is more or less on point to the theme of this post.

It doesn’t matter what the competition does, it’s always inferior–until you do it yourself.

The continued, and tiring, war of words between Airbus and Boeing throughout the decades is monotonous and self-serving. If you step back, it’s also amusing.

Consider:

  • Boeing constantly dissed the Airbus concept of fly-by-wire–until ultimately adopting FBW in its airplanes.
  • Airbus dismissed twin-engine ETOPS of the 777 while promoting four-engine safety of its A340–until evolving the A330 into a highly capable ETOPS in its own right.
  • Airbus put-down the 777X, saying the only way Boeing could make it economical was by adding seats…which Airbus has now done for the A330-900 to help its economics.
  • Boeing ridiculed the idea of a re-engined A320, but then had to follow with a re-engined 737 MAX due to the runaway success of the A320neo.
  • Boeing ridicules the A330neo as an old, 1980s airplane–neatly ignoring the fact that the 737 and 747 are 1960s airplanes.
  • Airbus still calls the 777/777X/787 a “dog’s breakfast,” though we know some dogs who eat pretty well.

And so it goes.

The fact of the matter is, however, that minor and major makeovers of existing airplanes have long been a fact of life, maximizing investment and keeping research and development costs under control. The Douglas DC-1 was the prototype for the DC-2, which begot the DC-3. The DC-4 (C-54) begot the DC-6, DC-6B and DC-7 series. The Lockheed Contellation was reworked from the original L-049 through the 647/749/1049 (in various versions) and finally the 1649.

Then came the jet age, with vastly more expense, and model upgrades became the norm. The sniping today between Airbus and Boeing goes unabated in an era of historical model improvements.

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FAA launches 787 system review

The Federal Aviation Administration today launched a review of the Boeing 787′s electrical system.

We start our coverage with a running synopsis of the press conference at 9:30am ET. Presenting are

Michael Huerta, director of the FAA (MH);

Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary (RLH); and

Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (RC).

RLH:

  • #1 priority is protecting the safety of the traveling public.
  • We go the extra mile when it comes to safety.
  • Today we are conducting a comprehensive review of the design and production of the 787, covering critical systems of the aircraft, including design, production and assembly.
  • Will look for the root causes of the recent issues be sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • FAA spent 200,000 hrs in advance of certifying aircraft.

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Odds and Ends: 787-9 progress but Qatar blast Boeing; EADS; Airbus

Boeing 787-9 progress: Aviation Week has this article detailing progress in the 787-9 program.

Qatar blasts Boeing: In what should come as absolutely no surprise, Qatar’s vocal CEO took his displeasure with Boeing public, blasting the company for late deliveries of the 787-8. Qatar’s first 787 was supposed to be handed over in August but has not for undisclosed reasons. Flight Global has this interview with Al-Baker, which dates from about a year ago.

Boosting the take-off: Airbus is looking at assist for take-offs to allow for shorter runways. This is not a new concept. This Google images page show lots of variations in Jet Assisted Take Off, many dating to piston days. We remember seeing a photo elsewhere of a Braniff Airways DC-4 or DC-6 using JATO for La Paz, Bolivia’s, high altitude airport but couldn’t fine one on Google.

EADS-BAE merger trouble: Government interference could tank the merger, Reuters reports.