BA goes for AI

Date:         02 Sep 98 01:07:50 
From:         Pete Mellor <>
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>From the UK media 24-26th August 1998:-

On 25th August, British Airways signed a firm order with
Airbus Industrie for 39 A319 and 20 A320 airliners for use
on domestic UK and European routes, with an option on 129
more of the same family (possibly including the A321).

BA CEO Bob Ayling said "We have ordered the right aircraft
at the right time at the right price. This is a great investment
in our future. This order is particularly good news for the
UK regions and the communities around the airports we serve."
(The last statement is a reference to the fact that modern
aircraft such as the A320 will create less noise for those
living under the approach and take-off paths.) In interview,
he said that the decision had been taken on purely commercial

AI CEO Noel Forgeard said "We are delighted that the world's
favourite airline has chosen the world's favourite airliner."

The order was signed at AI headquarters in Toulouse on the
morning of the 25th, in the presence of Tony Blair (paying
a quick visit on his way to Omagh) who said that the British
Government is "fully committed to the success of the enterprise"
and looked forward "to the day when Airbus will be the number
one producer of aircraft in the world".

The value of the order to AI is variously reported as 1.4 or
1.8 billion GBP.

The tone of the news items was triumphal, with statements that
AI has finally "cracked the BA nut" and that "there are tears
in Seattle tonight". (This is the first order that BA has placed
with AI. Its existing A320s were acquired in the take-over of
British Caledonian a few years ago.)

The European spokeswoman for Boeing put a brave face on it
while being comprehensively sneered at by John Humphreys
("Yes, but what are you going to do with all those B737s
rusting away out there in the desert?" and, when a siren
sounded in the background, "That sounds like an emergency
vehicle. Is that an omen for Boeing?"). She pointed out
that BA had also placed a large order for the B777 (16 firm,
options on 16 more, value 3 billion GBP - in fact more in
value than the AI order).

(I normally feel instant compassion fatigue for any
squirming politician that Humphreys gets on his hook, but
I felt quite sorry for the poor girl!)

All of the aircraft (Airbus and Boeing) will be fitted
with IAE power units.

British Aerospace has a 20% share of AI, and Rolls-Royce
has 30% of IAE. Workers at BAe Filton (R&D), Chester (wings)
and Lancashire (wings) were reportedly dancing on the
shop floor, and those in Derby (RR engines) were pretty
chuffed, too. Overall, the latest round of orders guarantees
38,000 jobs in the UK aerospace industry.

(If only Bob had asked me about the software! :-)

Pete Mellor, Centre for Software Reliability, City University,
London, e-mail:

"The dogs yap, but the caravan moves on." - Arab proverb.