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.
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.
Let’s take a look at just the jet age history.
This chart is hardly inclusive but it makes the point: re-engining and re-winging airplanes is common.
Today’s sniping, of course, comes down to derivative vs new. Airbus claims the derivative 777X can’t compete successfully against the new A350-1000. Boeing claims the derivative A330neo, which doesn’t have a new wing to go with the new engine, can’t compete against the new 787.
We have our doubts about the 777-8 being an effective competitor against the A350-1000. The much heavier 777-8, which has to be in order to be the ultra long range airplane that it is, simply is too much airplane for more than about 5% of the world’s routes not covered by the -1000. We believe the 777-8 will be a niche airplane.
The comparisons between the A330neo and the 787-8/9 are more challenging. Based on our pre-neo launch study, using our estimates of specifications for the neo, we concluded the neo would come within 3%-5% of the operating costs of the 787, with a lower price making up the difference. We’ll have to rerun the analysis now that we have definitive data, but Airbus claims the operating costs will match the 787. We shall see.
Boeing claims the 787-10 will be 30% more economical than the A330-900. The 787-10 has a 13 seat advantage over the -900, but we’re skeptical about the Boeing claim. Our re-analysis will tell us if Boeing is correct.
The war of words between Airbus and Boeing is silly, tiresome and unending.