Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Aviation Systems

Major Professor

Robert B. Richards

Committee Members

Richard Ranaudo, U. Peter Solies

Abstract

Two of the most recognizable competitors in this new era of Euro-American competition are Airbus and Boeing. These two competitors are the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers and their competition is shaping the face of the commercial aviation industry. The competition between these two companies is for the “World’s Leading Commercial Airline Manufacturer.” This title is currently held by Airbus who has lead yearly production and taken more orders over the past three years.

Boeing has fallen behind in being the technological leader due to a falling budget, poor industrial model, and ethical practices. As a result of losing ground to Airbus over the past few years, Boeing has been continuously restructuring itself in an effort to compete in this new era of competition. By comparing these two companies the author’s objective was to determine a clear path forward for Boeing.

To make this determination the author examined both companies while making a detailed analysis of certain areas. Three focus areas were chosen based on initial analysis and the magnitude of their effects. These focus areas included subsidies, technology integration, and vision of the future.

Airbus’ early successes can be attributed to an unfair subsidy advantage that is now at the center of this competition. The next aspect at the center of this competition is their philosophies on automation and the implementation of technology. Boeing and Airbus have different philosophies on the implementation of automation. While both philosophies are sound, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Finally, each company in an attempt to gain an edge in the competition has staked its future on what each believes to be the future direction of commercial aviation. Airbus has gone with the philosophy of the jumbo jet with the A380, whereas Boeing has opted for targeting the medium range market with the 787.

The analysis of these two companies shows their difference in philosophies with regard to embracing new technologies in aircraft design and manufacturing. This thesis examines how Airbus has risen as the “World Leading Commercial Aircraft Manufacturer” and Boeing’s need to self-optimize.

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