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Airbus A380 vs Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Posted by evanx on March 5, 2007 at 11:27 AM PST

The Airbus vs Boeing competition has been interesting to watch in recent years. With the increasing number of world travellers, and limited airport capacity, there is a need for a very large carrier eg. 500+ seats. But the market can only support one such product. So Airbus stepped up with the A380 superjumbo, which in a typical three-class configuration supports 555 seats (and 853 in single cattle-class configuration). It's a double-decker 4-engined 10 billion dollar baby.

Boeing went for a more modest successor to the illustrious 747-400, namely the 787 Dreamliner, to debut in 2010. It's a 2-engined composite-framed liner seating 223, ie. half that of the A380.

So it's gonna use more advanced materials, and wing design, but otherwise not be a radical departure from current models.

At the time, i thought Boeing had the right idea. I thought, I'd rather be a shareholder betting on Boeing, than Airbus. The young mechanical engineer in me thought it would be tremendously exciting to be involved in this ambitious A380 project, but the more experienced software engineer thought, oooo, dunno, a bit risky...

Anyways, now it seems that Airbus is having a hard time, with a two year delay, caused by wiring and weight issues because of its relatively oversized frame. FedEx and now UPS have cancelled their orders for cargo versions of the A380 superjumbo, and Airbus has announced 10,000 job cuts. Ouch.

I wonder what, if any, are the lessons to be learnt from this, for software development projects?