Airbus and Boeing: A comparison
By Aben Johnson
Boeing and Airbus are the two largest manufacturers of large commercial airliners in the world. They have operated in this capacity since the early 1990’s. This is due to a series of consolidations in the European aerospace industry, As well as the acquisition of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing in 1997. Another factor that led to this duopoly was the withdrawal of smaller competitors such as Lockheed Martin and Covair.
William Boeing founded Boeing in 1910. He began by converting a shipyard into an airplane factory. In addition to large aircraft, Boeing designs and manufactures missiles, satellites, launch vehicles, and advanced information systems for military and civilian use. James McNerney has been CEO and chairman of the board of Boeing since June 2005, before this he was CEO at 3M. Boeing is listed on the NYSE with 68% of the stock held in North America. Institutional investors hold 72% of Boeing stock. Airbus was founded in 1970. Its headquarters are located in BLagnac, France. Airbus was the French, German, Spanish, and British governments back the consortium of a group of European based aerospace firms formed to compete against the U.S. Airbus. The Company was rebranded as Airbus group in 2014, which is made up of its Defense, Space, and Helicopter divisions. Airbus’ CEO is Thomas Enders. He has been CEO since May 2012 and served as division head of Airbus since 2007. While Airbus is a publically traded company, and institutional investors currently hold most of the common stock, it is important to note that European governments hold most of the companies voting rights.
Since 2004, Airbus and Boeing have received comparable orders for their aircraft. Airbus received 8,933 and has delivered 4,824 thus far. Boeing has received orders for 8,428 jets and has delivered 4,458. Due to the intense completion between the two firms, the two regularly exchange in accusations of unfair state aid from their competitors government.
Boeing and Airbus have a comparable range of aircraft available. However, Due to the layouts of the aircraft and the specific needs of their respective clients, the two firms rarely compete. Below is a chart that shows characteristics of the two firms aircraft.
Starting in 1991, both firms began an R&D project for a larger aircraft than that of Boeing 747, which at the time was the largest commercial jet available. Airbus developed a full double-deck aircraft called the A380. Boeing answered a decade later with the 747-8. These two jets are the only competitors for long haul commercial routes. Both companies compare their products efficiency, reliability, and cost regularly. Due to a lack of a proper third party to verify these claims. The two continue to argue easily testable statistics. Boeing claims the 747-8 uses 11% less fuel than the A380. Airbus claims that the A380 uses 8% less fuel than the 747-8. The two plains differ in their aerodynamics as well, as shown in this picture.
Runway needs are also disputed across the firms. Airbus claims that the A380 is capable of using 17% less runway that the 747-8. Boeing has taken 51 orders for its 747-8i passenger and 69 for its freighter version. It’s worth noting that Airbus has suspended orders for the A380 freighter version. Despite this it currently has 324 orders for the A380 passenger. This included an order for a specially equipped version for the Prince of Saudi Arabia. Due to the delay on the part of Airbus, FedEx and UPS have both cancelled some of their orders for the A380 freighter and have switched to the 747-8F.
The two firms compete for orders amongst a small group of commercial airlines and shippers. Orders are placed in bulk and Commercial airlines and shippers usually use one manufacturer for a majority of their fleet. Which manufacturer the airline goes with largely depends on the country in which it is domiciled. The US subsidies the...
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