As Boeing Jets Sit Idle, Airbus Can’t Make Planes Fast Enough

Airbus can’t easily capitalize on the grounding of archrival Boeing’s best-selling plane.

Comments: 58

  1. As a travel agent, I can tell you that all of my clients are asking what type of planes we are booking them on, no one wants to fly on a Max. This is not going to change despite Boeing's multi-million dollar propaganda campaign that we all know is on the way. They should have scrapped the Max and started a redesign right away, now they are simply doubling down on a bad design. Good for Airbus in the long term.

  2. @Marcus G I totally believe that. "...If it's Boeing, I ain't going..." is now a universal pov.

  3. @Marcus G, I agreed completely but I noted that Boeing SC makes parts for the 737 MAX in North Charleston, South Carolina. If you are from SC, my next question is, "Are some of your clients ... Boeing workers?" I would be laughing except this Boeing debacle affects the Spirit workers here in Wichita in the worse way - unemployment.

  4. @Marcus G No sane and informed passenger will pay money to fly in a death trap that has already sent hundreds to their doom, unless they have a death wish.

  5. My son was supposed to fly to Denver from Paris last year before the grounding of the Max: instead of a direct flight with a Max we choose a non direct flight on an Airbus…

  6. Denver to Paris on a MAX? Hmmmmmmm. Not plausible. The 777 and 787 are fine machines that save money for their operators.

  7. @Academic I doubt this.

  8. @Academic CDG to DEN? Ok, I can tell you're lying simply because no single isle jet has the range to make that trip. Even taking multiple MAXs across the way is less beneficial than just one trip on a widebody. You likely rode on a United 787 or 777 to Chicago then jumped on whatever plane was going to Denver at the time.

  9. And yet the US is threatening to retaliate against the EU, due to supposition of subsidies for Airbus, with tariffs against multiple goods, including wines. Boeing has to solve its own problems with the 737 Max first!

  10. Boeing is just raising the cost of the mistake by delaying the retirement of the MAX.

  11. And lest we forget, all of the rushing the Max to market, the circumventing of regulators, etc, etc, was intended to save Boeing money and make them more competitive with Airbus. How'd that work out?

  12. As a Seattleite, I am very embarrassed for Boeing. But, they got what they deserved, at the tragic cost of hundreds of lives. I trust that all companies, not just Boeing, wake up and realize that *not* listening to your people, especially engineers, for the sake of more profits, can hurt your company very badly. I do software quality, and I know very well that most or all companies do software quality rather poorly; basically, they don't have a deep understanding of what they're doing, and they throw most of the business value of their quality people and quality data away. So, I hope software companies wake up, too, after this tragedy... but, I'm not optimistic.

  13. I think people have a long standing fear of flying. In other words if god wanted man to fly he would have give him wings. It's in our genes. We're only really comfortable with our feet planted on the ground. All this is to say that if one airplane, the 737 Boeing, has a horrible past history, including flying a second plane after the first crash wasn't properly investigated, makes a person involuntarily, deeply afraid of the 737, We can't help it. Nature made us this way. We become profoundly afraid of anything that could put us in death's embrace. Good luck on getting anyone to fly the 737 again.

  14. @sheila Exactly right. That's why bars/alcohol are located near the departures at airports. Many people need to fortify themselves against the (usually) irrational fear of flying. I understand the physics of why planes can fly but still, at age 68, marvel that they get airborne when I'm on a flight.

  15. My own travel standard to book flight when the "safest airplane in the world" is released will be a three year accident-free record before I will set foot in one. As the Times has pointed out in its analysis of the plane's history, Boeing's approach to the development and regulatory clearance of the plane were affected by what I would term the new corporate culture of financial maximization at Boeing. The company's engineering culture was replaced by a culture of finance that placed shareholder value above all else. So far, I see no evidence that the culture that led to the Max disasters has changed. Ayne Rand would have been proud.

  16. While your standard is not unreasonable, I would still note that your odds of being involved in a crash do not decrease whatsoever over the course of those three years. If the plane is safe, it will basically never crash. If the plane is unsafe, it will eventually crash after being flown enough. I personally do not have the desire to test that out, ever.

  17. The A320neo just didn’t materialize out of thin air overnight. Boeing was well aware of Airbus’s business strategy with respect to a longer range, point to point passenger aircraft. The decision to push a 50 year old airframe as a contemporary solution was probably not well considered. The 346 lives lost rest on their shoulders. But not for delivering a defective aircraft. On the contrary the B737 is a very safe plane. William Langewische in Vanity Fair wrote a compelling article last September about the competency of the pilots as being the root cause of the both crashes. Yes, Boeing did a poor job of communicating the role of the MCAS system in the operation of the aircraft. But I think the blame is over emphasized. I fly little puddle-jumper Cessnas and Pipers. Know what: in that situation I would have shut off trim control, then the auto pilot if necessary, and then fly it manually. And I’m no airline pilot. Solving the erratic MCAS should not have been a hard problem to think through.

  18. @CD I'd stick to the Cessnas and Pipers ....

  19. @CD "Boeing did a poor job of communicating the role of the MCAS system in the operation of the aircraft." Really! I think you meant to say hide the presence of the MCAS system from the FAA and the pilots. And as far as your Dunning-Kruger appraisal of your own abilities, maybe you might consider that the pilots were only at 5000 feet and had a system trying to push them into the ground over and over again with little time to understand what was happening. Everyone has 20/20 vision in hindsight, but Boeing created the monster with a lack of redundancy, and insufficient information and training given to pilots. Boeing owns the problem. BTW, The Langewische puff piece was so blatant, I'm sure he got a Christmas bonus from Boeing.

  20. Without a basic change at the top, Boeing will continue its downward trajectory. For decades now, it has emphasized profitability over product quality. It has used its money to buy back shares rather than invest more in R&D, pay more to retain its critical employee talent. Just recently, it borrowed money for what, to pay dividends and buy back shares once again to keep the share value artificially high! Boeing management's failure is evident in almost all of its products, both commercial and military. Not just the Max, KC-46 tanker, for the military and Starliner capsule for NASA have had glaring defects, the latter potentially fatal. NASA's SLS next generation launch system, of which Boeing is a prime contractor, is way over budget and schedule. The list goes on and on. The flaw is systemic. Boeing board and management must stop share buybacks, invest the money instead in its engineers, new innovative product development, excellent quality control etc. Otherwise Boeing will go the way of the Dodo bird and we will use yet another industry vital to our nation's welfare!

  21. @kant I meant lose not use

  22. I love to fly and travel a lot. I am in Mumbai for my 4th consecutive winter. Just got back from Kashmir - flying Airbus 320 - but not neo. The Neos here are having problems with their Pratt and Whitney engines. Just about every day, news reports tell of a flight being either cancelled or diverted for an emergency landing. I have said this before - I have no problems flying in a Max if piloted by Americans who have been trained. As that excellent NYT magazine article showed there was nothing wrong with those 2 Max which crashed that well trained pilots with the right "airmanship" could not have safely avoided the catastrophic failure. If given a choice - I prefer to fly Boeing because their airplanes in general are roomier and quieter. The set back design of engines in Dreamliners make front of the aircraft as if it's a glider with no engines. Just incredibly quiet. Having said that - my own view is Max will never fly. It's a political football and no one in DC wants to clear it during this election year - lest something happen.

  23. I think one of the most important things that was very briefly included was the delay in Boeing making choices on the 797. There's a size gap between the MAX10/321xlr and the 787/330neo. Whoever gets to that market first will have an advantage in forcing the other to respond.

  24. It will be interesting to watch Boeing over the next few years. Boeing has just effectively cancelled the NMA, which would have been badly needed to compete with the Airbus A320neo / A321XLR family, in the biggest market segment by far. Boeing is also increasingly cash squeezed, and therefore possibly unable to finance a successor for the 737 as fast as it should. And WTO rules that prevent Boeing from receiving government aid for aircraft development are now enforced.

  25. I have no faith in Boeing as a company to produce a safe airplane. Their only goal is greed They did it to themselves

  26. Perhaps that’s the reason their airplanes don’t fall , they are not in a rush like ...

  27. Boeing's problem are its own doing and it is shameful. It is interesting, though, to note that despite Boeing's failures, Airbus cannot capitalize because of the complex nature of planes / production etc. And isn't that exactly how Boeing got where it got? It KNEW no other company could compete or take its business or challenge it, really, so it got greedy and lazy.

  28. Back in the early '80's when I was just a high school kid and knew every detail about the Apollo missions, I flew from Delhi to Amsterdam on a KLM 747-200. I recall when the Captain walked down the aisle and greeted us (me). When I saw him I was just in awe - he was wearing his full suit and cap. He asked if I would like to come up to flight deck and see it. I was so excited. When leaving the flight deck I knew what I wanted to be. However, life takes some turns and curves and, unfortunately, I'm not a pilot today. BUT I can tell you what I don't see today when I fly (probably due to 9-11) are those amazing pilots walking the aisle and and making young people curious/excited. As mentioned in prior articles, our world is falling short of upcoming airline pilots. We need to get the pros back in the aisles and let the young people see them and make them wonder of the their future possibilities instead of just a "oh, i need a job".

  29. @SSS Keep in mind safety regulations were more lax back then, and I do agree it had to do with a rash of terrorist plots involving hijacked aircraft that made that experience disappear. However, now these days, software and electronics are flying the plane and not the actual pilot; they just sit there to monitor everything. Boeing still kept the hand-on feel despite putting flyby wire into aircraft (the 777 being the first with mechanical backup), but airlines these days are more reluctant to spend time training pilots how to fly instead of just watching the instruments do their thing.

  30. Boeing, the poster child for American corporate capitalism run amok. One thing the article doesn't quantify is potential passengers like me who now actively seek out routes serviced by Airbus equipment.

  31. After you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig. Boeing deserves whatever it gets in the short and long term.

  32. Ok, well that headline has me worried. I don’t want to hear that any plane manufacturer is making planes QUICKLY..

  33. Well, if your planes do not fall out the sky, you can sell them. Who knew?

  34. Airbus: Please stay the course. Don't let this gaudy opportunity attract you away from the golden path of quality, reliability and SAFETY to grasp this tainted profit baton from Boeing.

  35. How's cutting corners and relying on bean counters and not engineers working out for you Boeing?

  36. I will fly the Max when it is approved. Everyone bashes Boeing for using the 737 as the base for another model, but it is the most successful airliner in the world and if they had executed it better there would be no issues. I fault them on due diligence, but they are also a huge employer of Americans and a national asset. Their planes are just as safe as Airbus overall, and these crashes probably would have never occurred if pilots today on budget carriers actually were trained and could fly the airplane without the help of computers. I know the accidents would have had almost no chance of happening in my airline, United, because they have the best pilots in the world. Airplanes crash, but that's why we have the FAA. They may have issues with approving new designs, but once a crash occurs they get their butts into gear and ensure that the plane is safe. Once they approve the plane I will trust their judgement and use it. Even with the two Max 8 crashes the chance of me dying in an airplane crash are still effectively nil.

  37. Yet to save money Boeing advocates not training pilots, not including technology (electronic screens that say in plain english what the problem is), relying on an old design to avoid recertification, using old tech in the cockpit (paper manuals), and software to correct flaws to the aircrafts design (oversized engines that when pushed too aggressively caused the plane not to climb but fall). Yes Boeing is a huge employer in the United States, yes they employ a lot of people but they are a business and if they seek to line their pockets rather than make a better, safer superior product, then it deserves to go out of business.

  38. The max is still on the ground and it will a stimulator training which unit cost over $40 million a piece. Plust the hours that training all pilot on the simulators will also take time and while the max returns to service most pilots in the US will not have completed the simulator training, meaning if there is a problem at the gat with a max crew they cannot take a crew out unless they have had simulator training.A big headache for SW and Ryan air.

  39. Maybe Airbus will take over the Boeing plant in Everett, WA, and start manufacturing the Airbus there. The Boeing employees who were told to "shut up" will still have their jobs, and the Boeing dysfunctional management can go work in Starbucks in Seattle.

  40. Let not let haste make waste. The Boeing story will be textbook reading for the next is now in shambles propped up by the US Government and a backlog of plane orders from around the world. That Boeing has shown us how inefficient and casual they are in putting a solid, safe product into the market should give pause to those ordering anything but toilet paper from this company that went so bad. If any one of their planes go down for any reason except for terrorists in the next 12-18 months after delivery Boeing will be history. As I have said previously, the senior executives at Boeing should be indicted and jailed, their fortunes forfeited. They have systematically fleeced USA and the world by cutting corners, emboldens and greed , killing innocent people. Yet, Justice is indeed blind.

  41. Arrogant Boeing leaders chose stupid greed over honesty and compassion. If they are fully bankrupted and purchased by new owners, I hope that they will think twice about putting tiny profits over the lives of their customers.

  42. Working for a subcontractor to Boeing I can tell you that it is a bureaucratic boondoggle beyond imagining that makes the DoD look lean. The military and commercial will be split to saddle the commercial side with the debts and lawsuits. Guess who will throw govt assistance to them and bully the EU into allowing it? This may put Washington in play.

  43. This Boeing vs. Airbus discussion is an excellent example of the failure of US "freemarket capitalism". AIrbus was started as a French government endeavor to try to provide an alternative to the American monopoly of the time -- Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Lockheed. The wonders of American capitalism have lead to the failure of McDonnell Douglas (absorbed by Boeing) and Lockheed in the commercial aircraft arena, in favor of the much more protected military arena where they get paid even if they produce junk (true corporate welfare) . Boeing itself may very well go the same way due to the MAX debacle. The bean counters took over when Boeing left Seattle and it's been downhill since. They will survive because of US government handouts, but they have lost it compared to the innovation and quality of the government sponsored (originally true socialist) Airbus Industrie. WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!!

  44. @Eric But hasn’t America been made great again? Is my red MAGA hat lying to me?

  45. The Boeing 737 MAX story doesn't end with its recertification and return to the air. There is a flying public that, contrary to Mr. Charlton's opinion, will NOT believe the 737 MAX is the safest airliner in the sky, because we know that all the software in the world doesn't change the fact that it's aerodynamically flawed, using software as a workaround for bad design. Whenever I book flights, I check the kind of airplane I'll be on, and you'd better believe I'm never booking a flight on a 737 MAX again. I'm sure there are plenty more like me, too. Airlines will surely notice when their MAX flights don't sell out, or when people voice their concerns at the gate when they find out they're on a MAX.

  46. There are quite a few things left out of this article that are important to this whole situation. The 737 is a 1960s design that incorporates aspects of the 1950s 707 - it is fundamentally a 60-70 year old airframe - a 1st generation jet airliner. The A320 is a late 1980s design, a 3rd generation airliner. Nonetheless Airbus decided to update the A320 in 2006 (publicly announcing the neo in 2010), delivering the first A320neo about three years ago. Boeing's reaction was to sneer at the Airbus offering for 2 years, until its customers started ordering the Airbus in huge quantities - with Boeing ½ a decade behind. Hence the rush to update the 60+ year old 737 design to make it competitive with an updated 20 year old design and all the problems that ensued. The new A320neo series is a bigger development than a straight competitor for the 737. The issue is another aircraft, the Boeing 757, the last of which are slowly being withdrawn from airline service. The 757 is popular for transatlantic and transcontinental flights and airlines need a replacement - Airbus has one, the long-range and extra-long-range A320neoLR and A320neoXLR and airlines are buying them. Adding the A220 to Airbus' lineup solves a problem for Airbus, but not for Boeing. The problem was that the A320 series is too big for some routes, and the smallest, the A318 makes little sense. The A220 fills that space, the 737 doesn't (same problem), which is why the ITC rejected Boeing's case against it.

  47. @MacK That's half the story. Boeing was secretly looking to build a plane that would've replaced the 737 (and 757 potentially) which is what everyone was calling the 797. However, American was in talks with Airbus to make a big purchase of Neos (considering much of their fleet is Boeing), which caused some concern. Along with that, some other airlines had urged Boeing to build something within reasonable time (a few years) to compete with the neo, which led to the cheaper-to-make MAX.

  48. Ii is perhaps just worth mentioning that Britain designs and builds the wings for essentially all Airbus planes. It also builds the fuel and landing systems. Rolls Royce jet engines (a separate company to the German owned car company) are one of the three top engines makers in the world and provide the engines for many Airbus planes Twenty percent of every Airbus plane is provided by Britain Brexit does not affect this situation or its 14000 Airbus jobs

  49. @truthlord Brexit does seriously impact Airbus in the UK and Rolls-Royce and they have repeatedly stated this fact. A huge number of components for Rolls Royce engines and Airbus wings are sourced from the EU. In addition aircraft manufacturing in the UK is currently supervised by EASA the EU's equivalent of the FAA - the UK has made zero progress on setting up a replacement. All of these facts are well known in the UK. have to say that your post seems to be the usual Brexiter "don't blame us" propaganda. Brexit is a serious medium and long term threat to Airbus, Dowty, and a host of UK aviation manufacturers, not to mention aircraft maintenance in the UK which employs 50,000 of whom 37,000 are EASA certified technicians, engineers and mechanics. Your post illustrates something really sad - the way that Brexiters are spouting false information to try to pretend they have not done an immense act of self-harm to the UK economy.

  50. Boeing's problems go way deeper than sales. The comany's quality culture is totally broken. The tanker program is years late and the USAF suspended deliveries last year because their internal QA controls failed to find foreign object debris and other areas where Boeing did not meet required quality standards. Within the month, there was nearly a catastrophic failure of their NASA spacecraft during a test due to a software bug. Again, NASA determined that there were multiple failures in Boeing’s processes that should have caught the mistakes but didn't. Their entire safety and quality culture has disappeared. Please don't tell me that the MAX will be the safest plane ever. If Boeing builds it and tests it, don't trust it.

  51. A redesigned Edsel is an Edsel.

  52. You can blame the ex CEO of Boeing, the FAA chief and the "business genius" Trump for this disaster for Boeing. Unbridled de regulation led to it and the three of them should face civil if not criminal charges for the hundreds of poor souls lost in the crash. Ok, let's hear from the "it's Obama's fault" crowd. Any de regulation he might have done was accelerated on steroids by Trump and his crowd. They had three yrs. to prevent this disaster.

  53. And the FAA did not ground the 737max. The president had to do it himself demonstrating the hollowing out of the agency that is supposed to protect us.

  54. When your product is engineered, but you overide, silence, and gainsay your engineers, then not only do you end up with unengineered mistakes, but you lose the TRUST of your consumers.

  55. How many people will willingly ride the 737 Max? Not me.

  56. I don't want to fly on planes produced in the USA. Corporations are focussed on short term profits and the US government, under the current President doesn't believe in strong regulation. The current government is purging professionals out of the government and discrediting science as part of its deregulation initiatives. It will increase profits along with liability. I would be willing to pay domestic carriers a slightly higher fee to fly on planes built under EU regulations.

  57. @HL Good luck with that because the 777 and 787 are pretty widespread globally.

  58. Boeing executives are surely reading this and other articles about the Max debacle. They might even be reading the Comments section, which should give them a readout of how the public feels about them and their Max airplane. Yet, I doubt that they feel much shame for their actions and their lack of integrity. They have their bonuses. Sad.