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Book Review: Boeing V. Airbus  
User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2714 times:

I just finished John Newhouse's Boeing v. Airbus. In summary I would call this book "Airlines.net -- the print edition"

The book does not have the powerful narative of some of the better recent works on the corporate world -- Conspiracy of Fools being perhaps the best overall while Hard Landing stays on top of my airline library-- but it does do a good job summarizing the more interesting little pockets of the airline world we all love so much.

Airbus afficianatos may be disappointed in the Airbus portion of the book. Airbus is constantly viewed via a direct comparison of Boeing rather then as the result of a interesting political gambit. Many of the more interesting political intrigues surrounding the foundation of the modern day Airbus are not even mentioned, and the book greatly simplifies a very complex story around the launch decision for the A380. However, airbus fans will be delighted in the constant skewering of Boeing's corporate culture during the last decade. The author slams the decision to build not only the A380 but also the A340, stating that there was significant internal reservations to the plane.

Boeing gets top billing in this book, and every major decision that was made over the last decade gets reviewed. In particular the author examines the merger with McD, the decision to not launch a cleansheet replacement for the 737, the line collapse that occurred during the toyotafication of Boeing, the corruption issues (and it's tie to McD), the 787's outsourcing, the sonic cruiser, and the decision to launch the 787 in detail. On the Airbus side he also delves into the launch decision for the A380, and a thorough analysis of the point to point versus hub to hub arguments.

The author also analyzing the WTO dust up in details -- going into great detail about Clinton's involvement -- and comes to the conclusion that Airbus missed great opportunities to walk away from corrupting government aide and then spends the rest of the time bashing Boeing for bringing the case up in the first place.

Very few facts come up in these articles that have not been very well represented here on A.net and hashed to death. When they do come up, they are interesting. One such point that the author makes is that the 747 had stopped being Boeing's most profitable plane when the 767-300 was introduced, not the 777 as has been widely reported. Some of the more interesting conspiracy theories; in particular the nature of the timing between Leahy's leaked memo on the 350 and Udvar-Hazey's remarks; are also mentioned.

The author does spend significant amount of time delving into the personalities involved. Both Condit and Stonecipher come in for a phenomenal amount of flak, being cast as the villains of this particular story. John Leahy, Macnermy and Pierson cast as the heroes. One wonders if the casting is due more to who would talk on the record and who would not.

In general, if you are looking for a book that pretty much summarizes the more interesting debates on A.net, this book might be for you. I found that the narration style and the excessive effort to be fairly balanced (read bash both equally) with regard to Airbus and Boeing detracted from the book being interesting. Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to actually post on AvB, or on Hard Landing.

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLeelaw From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2652 times:

Thanx for so lucidly offering your thoughts on this much anticipated tome. Richard Aboulafia offered a much more sanguine appraisal of "Boeing v. Airbus" in his own book review late last year:

http://www.richardaboulafia.com/shownote.asp?id=235

Which was discussed in this now archived A.net thread:

Aboulafia's Book Review Of "Boeing Versus Airbus" (by Leelaw Dec 22 2006 in Civil Aviation)

I haven't read the book yet, hopefully others who have actually read the book will offer their impressions/comments/opinions here, which if nothing else will aid those of us who haven't "taken the plunge" in our decisions whether or not it's worthwhile to invest our time and money in "Boeing v. Airbus."

[Edited 2007-01-24 10:07:06]

[Edited 2007-01-24 10:20:16]

User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 2531 times:

Thanks for the book report. The only thing I don't understand is the last sentence"

Quoting AirFrnt (Thread starter):
Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to actually post on AvB, or on Hard Landing.

What is AvB and Hard Landing? I googled them but came up with no obvious answer.


User currently offlineBreiz From France, joined Mar 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2466 times:

Quoting Leelaw (Reply 1):
I haven't read the book yet, hopefully others who have actually read the book will offer their impressions/comments/opinions here, which if nothing else will aid those of us who haven't "taken the plunge" in our decisions whether or not it's worthwhile to invest our time and money in "Boeing v. Airbus."

You really know if the book was worth the money only when you have read it.
We have different perceptions.
The book is not a historical review of both Boeing and Airbus, it's impossible.
The author takes various subjects, most of them controversial at the time they occurred and compares B and A actions (or the lack of them).
The approach is critical to both, underlining the good and the bad sides.
Very many quotes from people involved on both sides or third parties make this book "human", not just an account of facts.
It tells or confirms the strong influence of individuals on events, more so than organizations.
I learned that the first job of James McNerney, now Boeing's new boss, when he came to GE, was to patch-up disastrous relations with Airbus. Small world.
I strongly recommend this book to the many A-netters who are running the A versus B threads. It will show them that on the chapters of mis-management, political support, price dumping, over-production, arrogance, pride, engineering success,..., A and B are very alike.
What is blamed on A today, B did it yesterday and vise-versa.
Enjoy.


User currently offlineLeelaw From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2425 times:

Thanx for your offering your impressions of the book and quite sensible admonition to the OEM partisans.


Quoting Breiz (Reply 3):
You really know if the book was worth the money only when you have read it.
We have different perceptions.

Indeed, however, one of the principal aims of a book review is to assist the reader in making a purchasing decision


User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2400 times:

Quoting BoomBoom (Reply 2):
Quoting AirFrnt (Thread starter):
Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to actually post on AvB, or on Hard Landing.

What is AvB and Hard Landing? I googled them but came up with no obvious answer.

Translation:

Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to [Airliners.net where you can] actually post on AvB [A vs. B], or on [the book] Hard Landing.

Regards  Smile



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2372 times:

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 5):
Translation:

Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to [Airliners.net where you can] actually post on AvB [A vs. B], or on [the book] Hard Landing.

Thanks, I thought he might be talking about a.net but was confused since you don't need a First Class membership to 'actually' post.


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2367 times:

Quoting Osiris30 (Reply 5):
Your money may be better spent on a First Class membership to [Airliners.net where you can] actually post on AvB [A vs. B], or on [the book] Hard Landing.

Thank you. It was late and I was tired.


User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2346 times:

Quoting BoomBoom (Reply 6):
Thanks, I thought he might be talking about a.net but was confused since you don't need a First Class membership to 'actually' post.



Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 7):
Thank you. It was late and I was tired.

My pleasure.. I only wish occasionally people would help me untangle my own posts LOL



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2327 times:

Quoting Breiz (Reply 3):
You really know if the book was worth the money only when you have read it.

And my conclusion is that while I am not about to return it to Borders, I can think of a number of other things, most notably participation here on A.net that might inform one better then this book.

Quoting Breiz (Reply 3):
We have different perceptions.

Fair enough. Feel free to add your own review.

Quoting Breiz (Reply 3):
Very many quotes from people involved on both sides or third parties make this book "human", not just an account of facts.

Here I am going to disagree and kindly point to two books that I mentioned above. Those two books (one about the airline industry and one about Enron) are written with just as many quotes, but the narrative is far smoother. This book seemed to jump around on me considerably, and made it difficult to build a cohesive picture of just what is at the heart of Boeing versus Airbus in the first place.


User currently offlineDambuster From Switzerland, joined Nov 2006, 126 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2312 times:

I'm in the process of reading it and must agree it's a bit of a copy of what people talk about on this website... the good thing is that I'm getting the whole problem clearer, it's a bit of a summery of what's been on lately... can't say more.

User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2291 times:

One other thing that I forgot to mention is that the book went to press sometime after August, but certainly before October, and the massive year long delay on the A380. His A380 commentary is a bit out of date because of that.

User currently offlineLeelaw From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2271 times:

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 11):
One other thing that I forgot to mention is that the book went to press sometime after August, but certainly before October, and the massive year long delay on the A380. His A380 commentary is a bit out of date because of that.

Perhaps it's best to wait for the paperback edition when there will likely be an epilogue which will discuss some of the major story elements/developments pending at the time of the publication of the first edition, such as: the third major program delay on the A380 program, the switch in December to the A350XWB(CFRP), roll-out/first-flight of the 787, etc.?


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2249 times:

Quoting Leelaw (Reply 12):
Perhaps it's best to wait for the paperback edition when there will likely be an epilogue which will discuss some of the major story elements/developments pending at the time of the publication of the first edition, such as: the third major program delay on the A380 program, the switch in December to the A350XWB(CFRP), roll-out/first-flight of the 787, etc.?

I think that is a fair bet.


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2163 times:

Quoting AirFrnt (Thread starter):
The author also analyzing the WTO dust up in details -- going into great detail about Clinton's involvement

Haven't read the book--yet, but would you mind providing a "spoiler"? What was Clinton's involvement WRT the WTO case? Was he a proponent, or opponent, of the '92 agreement? Reason I ask is that I remember one of Scott Hamilton's commentaries from last year in which he opined that perhaps the U.S. was "snookered" on this and Bermuda II.

[Edited 2007-01-25 00:29:55]


"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineAreopagus From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1369 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2142 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
What was Clinton's involvement WRT the WTO case? Was he a proponent, or opponent, of the '92 agreement?

Considering that Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, he probably didn't have a whole lot to do with it.


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2131 times:

Quoting Areopagus (Reply 15):
Considering that Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, he probably didn't have a whole lot to do with it.

Yes, I'm aware of that, so why is Clinton mentioned in connection with WTO case?



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2118 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
I ask is that I remember one of Scott Hamilton's commentaries from last year in which he opined that perhaps the U.S. was "snookered" on this and Bermuda II.

Scott Hamilton takes up the subject of the USTR again in his latest commentary as well as the John Newhouse book.
http://www.leeham.net/filelib/ScottsColumn012307.pdf


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2105 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):

Haven't read the book--yet, but would you mind providing a "spoiler"? What was Clinton's involvement WRT the WTO case? Was he a proponent, or opponent, of the '92 agreement? Reason I ask is that I remember one of Scott Hamilton's commentaries from last year in which he opined that perhaps the U.S. was "snookered" on this and Bermuda II.

Most of the Americans were livid after the 1992 agreement. Although estimates varied wildly at the time, Airbus certainly had provided at least 12 billion and possible as much as 36 billion in sunk costs into Airbus prior to the agreement. When the agreement came back still allowing for 1/3rd launch aide, a lot of people were livid.

Clinton was then elected. Clinton believed the deal to be dramatically unfair, and promised to get it overturned. However, he then met with Boeing execs who asked him to drop the case. They were selling more Boeings in Europe at that point then Airbus was selling in America, and they believed that they might loose access to the European markets. Clinton toned down his rhetoric, but pushed for a bill to let the US government provide launch aide in a similar way to how the European governments were subsidizing Airbus. That bill died in the aftermath of the collapse of Hillarycare and the 1994 elections.

The Boeing executives also believed that while Boeing held such a commanding lead in the market place, the effort looked more like whining and less like evening the playing field.

Quoting BoomBoom (Reply 18):
Duplicate post.

Strange, I am pretty sure I posted this book review only once.


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2074 times:

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 19):

Thanks, AirFrmt! BTW, I think BoomBoom was referring to one of his posts, not yours.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2825 posts, RR: 42
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2069 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
Reason I ask is that I remember one of Scott Hamilton's commentaries from last year in which he opined that perhaps the U.S. was "snookered" on this and Bermuda II.

As a aside, from a personal reading of it, the US was definitely snookered on Bermuda II. Bermuda II also explains exactly why the British government will never expand Heathrow or Gatwick. As a controllable commodity, access into those two markets can be elevated artificially manipulated to the point that the US was willing to allow code-sharing across international flights against the advice of every single one of it's carriers just to preserve access into LHR.

This is the biggest reason I am rooting for CO right now. If they can successfully start to build out access into the secondary British markets like Bristol and make LHR irrelevant, it will be much for the better for all international travelers.


User currently offlineCsavel From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1362 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 1962 times:

FYI
WNYC in New York had an interview with the author, you can listen to the streaming audio here.

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/2007/01/25



I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 1942 times:

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 20):
This is the biggest reason I am rooting for CO right now. If they can successfully start to build out access into the secondary British markets like Bristol and make LHR irrelevant, it will be much for the better for all international travelers.

But not the travellers that want to go to London!


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