Airbus threatens to sue Boeing

From:         Chuanga@cris.com (H Andrew Chuang)
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
Date:         10 Feb 96 12:30:50 
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Last year, I came across an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review on
the Airbus/Boeing competition.  It was reported in the article that Boeing
claimed the B777 would shave off as much as an hour off A340's flying time
on long-haul trip.  A similar claim was made by one of the netters from
Boeing in sci.aeronautics.airliners but was later disputed by a Cathay
Pacific pilot.

Today, there is an article saying that Airbus is threatening to sue Boeing
if Boeing does not stop using this false information (that the A330/340
can only cruise at 0.78 Mach).  Airbus says that some early A340
operators used the lower speed to increase either payload or range.
However, this sounds to me that the A330/340 must have significant
performance shortfalls.  I strongly suspect this is the reason why
Airbus is at least six months behind in the A340-300E development.

I read in another news release from the Asian Aerospace Air Show that
Airbus claims to have 43% of the A330/340/B777-200/MD11 market vs.
Boeing's 30%.  Note, Airbus left out the B777-300 because it's a
significantly larger aircraft.  However, Airbus included the A340-200
which is probably closer to the B767 size than to the MD-11 size.
Nonetheless, even without the A340-200, by my rough estimate, Airbus
still leads Boeing by about 50 units or 7 percentage points (40% vs
33%).  One thing Airbus failed to point out is that the B777 program
was launched three years after the A330/340, and the sales of the A330/340
have been flat for the past few years.  Furthermore, I think it's very
likely that the B777 will overtake the A330/340 by the end of the year.

Airbus is confident to officially launch the A340-8000 soon from three
potential customers, including Cathay Pacific.  Airbus says that airlines
are not comfortable with the idea of flying twin-engine planes over water
for 16 or 18 hours.  I find it ironic that the manufacturer (Airbus)
which pioneered the widebody twins is pushing a four-engine plane, while
the manufacturer which was once reluctant to build widebody twins (Boeing)
is a firm believer of twins, now.

Also, since the Air Show is in Singapore, Airbus makes a special marketing
pitch to Singapore Airlines in the press.  Airbus says that it will offer
the A330-200 Lite for SIA's needs of a smaller aircraft for regional
services.  (Boeing has talked about a B777-100X Lite, but I think the
A330-200 Lite will have significant operating cost advantage over the
"baby" B777.)

The battle is really heating up, Airbus has the A330-200, A340-8000,
A340-400X, and the A3XX on the drawing board, while Boeing has the
B777-100X, B747-500X, B747-600X, B757-200X (ER), B757-300X, and B767-400X.
Personally, I'm most interested in the A340-8000/B777-100X development.

--
  H Andrew Chuang (chuanga@cris.com)