August 19, 2006


Airbus Deflates (Jeremy Slater, 18 Aug 2006, Tech Central Station)

The news out of the company since has not improved as Airbus has announced that the launch of another new airplane, the A350, which is meant to rival Boeing's Dreamliner for long-haul international flights, is to be delayed, as the new management wants to reconsider the venture.

All in all, it is hard not to think of a major company that has so audaciously snatched defeat from the mouth of victory in the past few years. It will be hard for observers in the US not to say, "I told you so". They will point to a classic example of government meddling in the market place, a poor rate of productivity and other microeconomic issues that have left the continent's two biggest economies moribund for several years all leading to yet another European company failing. Further they will gloat that it is obvious that even when Europe tries to work together its efforts are scuppered by national rivalries or simply poor management practice that borders on the criminal.

It's hard to disagree with that assessment.

If suburban women see your cities on fire when they turn on CNN, they aren't hopping on your planes to fly to Disney.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 19, 2006 9:57 AM

Mr. Judd;

I think it's great that you're willing to quote articles that contradict your thesis. To wit, the article shows that the problem with Airbus is entirely self-inflicted and corporate, and has nothing at all to do with aircraft manufacturer preferences among the American flying public.

The idea that suburban women even know the name of the company that made the plane they're flying on, much less connect it with something they probably didn't see on CNN, is inventive, even for you.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 19, 2006 11:04 AM

Of course state run manufacturers can't compete. That's the primary strike against these Third World companies, one we've thoroughly explored. Indeed, it's odd that you recognize it yet still have faith in their competitiveness.

Posted by: oj at August 19, 2006 11:11 AM

Mr. Judd;

What's been thoroughly explored is your claim that "third world" airplane manufactures are uncompetive because Americans are so scared of flying on them that it results in them "gripping their trays in terror":, or because Americans see "cities on fire".

I will also fruitlessly note that my previous comment makes clear that I have no faith at all in Airbus' competitiveness.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 19, 2006 1:25 PM

A cause, not because. Odd that you think the average American is more trusting of statist manufacturers than you. There's a reason socialism never came to our shores, but then your ire has been racing ahead of your brain on this topic.

Posted by: oj at August 19, 2006 3:39 PM

No, I think the average American has no idea who made the airplane he's flying on and cares even less. The trust relationship is with the airline.

It's your evasions, misrepresentations, and non sequitors that have been racing ahead of my brain. You generate them far more rapidly than my enfeebled intellect can handle. What taxes my poor brain most, though, is why you feel the need to do that to defend such a bizarre and inconsequential thesis.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 19, 2006 5:42 PM

I'm not defending it, you've all conceded it. Boeing has no competition. Other makers can fill the niches it doesn't choose to contest.

Posted by: oj at August 19, 2006 8:06 PM

You're contradicting yourself once again. If Americans are scared to fly on "third world" built airplanes (as the very title of this post proclaims), then those manufacturers cannot fill a niche, even if Boeing doesn't.

You're also contradicting reality, not one person has conceded the point claimed in the title of this post, "AMERICANS WON'T BOARD THIRD WORLD PLANES".

You really ought to delete your own comment for being non-responsive.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 20, 2006 10:02 AM

I asked if there was even a niche for Third World countries to sell airplanes. As we've all noted Airbus is failing and will have to try and cling to its niche, though there's no market for the superjumbo. You guys have pointed out that Embraer does hold a place in the commuter niche, stamping out clones of older planes, which Boeing doesn't contest because not worth their while. They stick to passenger planes, like the ones Americans fly in. Likewise, all the innovation in aerospace comes from America. But niche companies needn't innovate to market a flying bus to captive business travellers.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 10:22 AM

Just a few short years ago, we were treated to lamentations that Boeing was finished and Air Bus was the future. There don't seem to be any adverse consequences to media errors in judgment and/or reporting. You'd think they would be a little shamefaced

Posted by: erp at August 20, 2006 1:44 PM

Boeing's stock has gone from around $35 about 2 years ago to almost $85 today. Journalists who know nothing about technology can understand those numbers - remember all the hot press about the tech. revolution in the late 1990s? Had Airbus been able to roll out the A380s on time (i.e., about right now), then there would be a lot of buzz in the press even though the delays on the A350 are much more serious to the company in the long run. On the whole, journalists think they know a lot about aircraft and airlines because they fly a lot. But they know squat - everytime there is some sort of 'event', it is inevitable that some talking head gets all the facts wrong.

As for OJ and his fixation on commuter planes: if somebody has a business meeting in China, and flies a 747-400 to Beijing, is that not a 'commuter' flight? Unless you're riding up front, a flight from O'Hare to China is not much of a passenger experience.

When I went to China in 1998, we flew Northwest out of Detroit, the plane was probably 60% full, and there was plenty of room to sleep. It was an excellent choice. We were on a 747, but at 60% capacity, it wouldn't have mattered if we had been on an Embraer or an Airbus.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 20, 2006 9:43 PM

If you fly there once you aren't a commuter. I take your point that you flew American though. Wise man.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 9:50 PM

Actually, the Embraer 145 would have splashed down somewhere before reaching Alaska. Not enough range. Too bad.

There are guys in my firm who fly to China and then on to Paris (and back home) probably once a month. They are 'commuters'. They hate it, even on a 747. So would I. Business class is not available on every trip.

Fortunately, my long-haul travel has been limited to Brazil. 8 hours to Sao Paulo from Miami, on an MD-11. Flights full going down, and about 50% coming back (and always at night). We flew on Varig, which was pretty good. Once, our return was cancelled, and we left the next morning - so I got to take a picture of the Amazon from the plane.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 20, 2006 10:26 PM

Exactly. They're for commuting, not for trips.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 10:33 PM

We agree on the causes of Airbus troubles, and the cost to European taxpayers and consumers. But the idea that passengers won´t board their aircraft...I´m with Annoying Old Guy here. As for Boeing not having any competition and Airbus being a niche player, we´ll see about that. I´m glad Boeing is doing so well today, but the Boeing 787 has yet to fly.

Posted by: wf at August 21, 2006 10:41 AM