Boeing and Airbus, which share a duopoly in the market for large commercial jets, have been known to trade the occasional jibe about their products and strategy, accusing each other of making misleading claims about their planes’ performance.
Airbus had struck a more supportive note during the three-month grounding of the Dreamliner, only to resume a more aggressive stance as the A350’s maiden flight approaches in coming weeks.
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said last week at an investor conference that Airbus doesn’t “have an airframe that can compete” with the 777X, the upgraded version of Boeing’s biggest twin-engine plane, “They don’t have the appetite to do a ground-up airplane, and they’d have to do a ground-up airplane.” He wanted to point out that Airbus doesn't have a competing airplane to the 777-9X (a derivative of the 777).
“It’ll take another 5, 6 or 7 years before they can respond to this airplane. We’re way ahead of them and it’s going to be fun. We’ve got them boxed in on the A350 at the top (with 777X) and we’ve got them boxed in at the bottom with 787.”
The answer from Airbus came with Tom Enders (EADS CEO and ex-Airbus CEO) when he told investors at the annual shareholders meeting that “the A350 XWB a real aircraft.”
“The aircraft we rolled out a couple of weeks ago didn’t have rivets from Wal-Mart, like the ones our competitors had at the time off their roll-out,”
Enders’s comment was directed specifically at the plane that Boeing presented publicly on July 8, 2007, timed to coincide with the plane’s name -- 787. The first 787 to actually fly didn’t come until 1 1/2 years later.
Fabrice Bregier, the Airbus CEO who succeeded Enders, kept the roll-out to a low-key event reserved only for employees. The humble ceremony compared with Boeing’s jubilant unveiling of the 787 Dreamliner in 2007, an event hosted by former television news anchor Tom Brokaw before 15,000 people and broadcast live by satellite.
Based on the article “Airbus Accused of Gutless Models Hits Back at Boeing 787 Parts” published in Bloomberg