Boeing, Airbus: Exceptional aviation giants

HARARE - Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo are sensational and inimitable household names on a astonishing global scale. Just like they inspire spirited, endless debate, they enjoy such unequalled distinction, they are unbeatable behemoths that play a starring role in the multi-billion-dollar football industry today.

Each earns a jaw-dropping millions of dollars monthly from bulging wages and multiple endorsements and other over-generous perks, according to leading business analysts, Forbes.

Whomsoever is classed next in the pecking order, replete with unconvincing pretenders, would be a distant third, by a nautical mile.

The little dynamo, Messi, and the egoistic, built-like-a-boxer Ronaldo, were such class acts they have selfishly monopolised, for a stupendous six years now, the coveted individual número uno award in world soccer, the Fifa Ballon D’Or; an amazing, unparalleled dominance.

It is much like the distinguished aerospace industry leadership by two cut-throat competitors; one an unyielding American thoroughbred, the other contester a fierce, European wannabe champion that takes no prisoners on the march to the glorified top. Boeing Industries was, by market capitalisation, according to aviation industry experts, so dominant they led the large passenger-plane-manufacturing industry in recent decades, albeit with an inconvenient interruption by their ambitious European competitors.

A simplified head-to-head analysis of the two is never easy, because of the various complex parameters used to assess competition between the two. Truth is, in some aspects, leadership rotates between the two.

To their credit, the Airbus Group, has been worthy championship contenders, outpacing Boeing in sales and orders (not necessarily in revenue or profit) in recent years.

Airbus is an aircraft manufacturing division of Airbus Group (formerly EADS). It is based in France, with several production and manufacturing plants in Germany, Spain and the UK. According to the know-it-all Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, their creations still in production were the A319, A320, A321, A330, A340, A350 and the gobsmacking A380.

The A320 was introduced to the world as the first passenger jet with the game-changing fly-by-wire system. The A300, A310 and A318 were no longer in production after selling hundreds of units, hugely improving the airplane manufacturer’s bottom-line and reputation.

Airbus bamboozled the flying industry with the revolutionary fly-by-wire system; a sophisticated technology that negated the traditional, fault-prone hydraulic systems.

Additionally, the video game-like joystick control has eliminated the usual control column sticking out from the floor; in the Airbus cockpit, the pilot casually manoeuvres her machine with her legs crossed if she wants. She no longer bothers from the old pole between the legs!

African Aviator admires Boeing and Airbus, not so much for the mouthwatering billions they earned annually and the tens of thousands they employed. But for the life lessons they could teach Africa, Zimbabwe; their relentless resolve to lead the world at what they do.

Men and women who lose sleep labouring in research and development, in the passionate desire to not only quieten the noisy neighbours, but to provide attractive, safe and user-friendly products that benefit their customers; the aircraft-buying airlines, and ultimately the fare-paying passenger.

Boeing or Airbus? It’s an un-winnable debate with little to separate the two. African Aviator personally preferred Boeing, the best-selling passenger aircraft maker of all time.  Their 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation.

The 737 has been continuously manufactured by Boeing since 1967 with

8 400 aircraft delivered and 4 210 ordered as of December 2014, according to Flight. There are 1 250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time, with two departing or landing somewhere every four seconds as of 2012!

Truth is though, Airbus have earned my deserved respect for sheer genius in creating the astonishing A380; a passenger jet so large not many thought it could ever be built and operated profitably.

And would you believe Airbus were testing a revolutionary reverse gear system, applicable to any jet airliner? (That’s a topic for another day!)

That driven competition between the two giants includes unending counter allegations of industrial espionage including threats of litigation now-and-then.

Truly, there’s no love lost between the two fiery competitors! My wish is for Zimbabwe, a potential economic giant who has screwed up her international relations but could still be dominant like Messi, Ronaldo; in agriculture, in education, in tourism, in mining, indeed in our small aviation industry at home, by humbly learning from Airbus and Boeing, aircraft manufacturers par excellence! Guys that made flying equipment so safe, the study of crashes involving their airplanes reveals it takes a whole pilot to negligently crash an unwilling aircraft!

Airbus and Boeing have been so domineering, they bullied the other small-time competitors (Embraer, Bombardier, Fokker etc) who have simply opted out of the large passenger jet manufacturing cut-throat race, leaving Airbus and Boeing to continuously slug it out.

The equivalent would be having all professional footballers withdrawing from the Ballon D’Or competition; leaving Messi and Ronaldo to do their own thing! The two just “can’t be beat”, to use colloquial Black English.

*Maguire ( is a trained pilot who enthusiastically scans the global aviation industry.

Comments (1)

I still feel that the " Electrical issues" that delayed the launch of Airbus type was not entirely if not addressed at all. The competition was heating up with Boeng dreamliner. Airbus had no patience to wait with order numbers increasing. Both these companies are super giants. I think boeng is ahead of airbus.

X-MAN IV - 25 January 2015

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