The rivalry between Airbus Industries and the Boeing Aircraft Company ressembles an extremely high-stakes version of the internet browser wars, and a significant development was announced yesterday.
Air Canada, not only Canada's largest airline, but the tenth largest airline in the world, just switched from Airbus to Boeing. Despite being just seven months out of bankruptcy protection, Air Canada is one of the healthiest airlines in North America, and the company has placed firm orders for 18 Boeing 777s and 14 B787 "Dreamliners," plus arranged purchase rights that could represent the eventual delivery of up to ninety-six new Boeing airplanes. Air Canada parent ACE has released a powerpoint presentation describing the future fleet plans. The existing B767 and Airbus aircraft will be retired as the new Boeings come on line, leaving Air Canada with an all-Boeing fleet.
The 1988 Air Canada decision to acquire an Airbus fleet has always been suspect, since there is evidence that significant kickbacks were involved. Prime Minister Mulroney was cleared of associated charges, but someone got the money.
One advantage of operating B777 and B787 instead of B767 and A319/320/340 is that Air Canada can maintain one pool of Boeing pilots instead of two pools of Airbus versus Boeing, with associated savings in training and administrative costs. Ironic, as it was Airbus that pioneered the interchangeable cockpits that allow pilots to be simultaneously current on an entire family of aircraft.
The Air Canada purchase is a significant achievement for Boeing, as announced in their press release, discussed in Randy's Blog, and shown because the picture I've linked to above is today the main image on the Boeing homepage.
Not to nitpick (and I actually like both Boeing and Airbus products)... Boeing, with the similarity of the B757 & B767 flight decks, did take the first step towards a 'generic' flight deck. Airbus just took it a step further.
I'm wiating for the future when pilots will just be inserted into The Cockpit (there will only be one model) and then they will be strapped to the front end of a variety of passenger-carrying tubes as the needs of the day arise.
I look forward to this development as it will end the scramble between flights to de-construct and re-construct our 'nests' of books, headsets, charts, pens, and other paraphanalia that we store in our own special ways... ;-)
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