Re: Airbus threatens to sue Boeing

From:         Rick Hughes <>
Organization: iiNet
Date:         27 Feb 96 23:00:27 
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H Andrew Chuang wrote:
> In article <airliners.1996.182@ohare.Chicago.COM>, I wrote:
> >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.
> I would like to make a corretion of the above statement.  The Boeing
> person that I was referring to in the previous post did not make the
> "claim".  He was only stating what he was told by a Captain of an airline
> which operated the A330.  And what he was told was the A330 was speed
> limited due to buffetting.
> --
>   H Andrew Chuang (

We would appear to be going over old ground here.

As previously stated when referring to our operation at Cathay, we
routinely operate our A340's on ULH services to Europe and North America
at speeds of M0.82 to M0.835.  The actual value depending on the factors
applicable to all heavy jets:  weight, head/tail-wind component, altitude
assigned etc. If required, we will cruise at M0.84, though this is rarely
called for and does increase fuel consumption with the supercritical wing
section. Fact, not fiction
... NO buffeting.

The Boeing person you were referring to did NOT say that the airline was
'operating' the A330.  They were scheduled to take delivery at some
unspecified future date ...  it was essentially crewroom talk (involving
B747-400 fleet captains) based on unsubstantiated rumour.  No more ...

This newsgroup does seem to have had a healthy amount of debate on the
Airbus/Boeing subject!  As aircrew flying both the A330/A340 in a mixed
fleet flying (MFF) operation, I have been amused at some of the comments
I have read in the past few months regarding the aircraft I fly (I can't
comment on the A319/320/321 not having flown the airframes). Suffice to
say, I personally have a healthy respect for both Airbus and Boeing. They
approach the design philosophy issue from different angles, but that
certainly doesn't make one better than the other. They both have their
place in airline inventories.  Pilots by nature will have their personal
preferences meaning they lean toward one operating philosophy more than

In my military days, I flew the F/A-18 for a number of years which used
FBW in a similar fashion to the Boeing 777 design (feedbacks etc.), which
incidentally Cathay have also bought.  However, after having operated the
new Airbus combo for the past 17 months, I have no problem with the lack
of feadback through the side-stick, or the autothrottle system (prior to
conversion I had my concerns): it is intuitive and a pleasure to use.
Having said that, it requires an average level of airmanship and training
to ensure the aircraft is operated safely in the manner in which it was
designed (again - no different to Boeing's aircraft). I despair at some
of the accident summaries I have read involving both Boeing and Airbus
aircraft and wonder at how the crews found themselves in the situations
which led to the tragic accidents we have seen.  So much of it comes back
to training and cockpit discipline ... and this seems to be where the less
sophisticated operators come unstuck.

The A330/A340 combination are a pleasure to operate and their operating
costs are undoubtedly amongst the lowest around (if not THE lowest),
especially when using a MFF operating policy to crew the fleet.

As an aside, the pilots I personally know who have completed the B777
conversion and await delivery of our first aircraft in May (delivery was
set back a few months due to the Boeing strike) tell me it will cruise
somewhere between 0.825 to 0.84 in normal operation.  I have no idea how
that equates to an hour on long haul services to Europe (which the A's
can't do anyway from Hong Kong).  As it stands now, on a 15 hour flight
to Europe, the difference between a 747-400 and an A340-200 flying a
similar route seems to pan out at around 30 - 35 minutes ... I know because
we brief side by side in our airline despatch and have frequently checked
the -400 flight plans.

The figures are easy to cross-check ... let's be generous and give the
747-400 an average cruising Mach of .855 cruising at FL350 @ ISA all the
way (unrealistic, but the same criteria apply to both aircraft).  From my
trusty Jeppeson CR2 'prayer wheel', his TAS will be about 491 Kts.  For
the A340 with an average Mach of .825 same conditions, TAS will be around
475 Kts.  In still air, this amounts to a 16 Knot difference in speed.
Extrapolate this out for 15 hours and you have 240 Nm difference, which
at the slower TAS of 475 Knots amounts to just over 30 minutes. In
practice, the time is usually slightly longer, as the A340 optimum altitude
is higher than the -400s for most of the route, so it is actually flying
in a colder atmosphere, hence slightly slower comparative TAS ... the
price you pay for better economics.

A lot more is being made of this Airbus/Boeing thing than need be. The
large majority of the guys I know who flew the -400 in Cathay and have
converted to the A330/340 combo, are very comfortable with the aircraft.
As you would expect, there are differences in both systems which render
one better than the other in certain areas, but as an overall combination,
the A330/340 are very good aircraft and a pleasure to operate ... so too
is Boeing's -400 and the B777 will no doubt mature to be a good aircraft
... horses for courses!


Rick Hughes