Boeing at Airbus' 6 O'Clock

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As if product delays and share price drops weren’t enough to sink its spirits, Airbus’ chief rival Boeing was on a roll at Farnborough, announcing plans to compete in the 500-seater market, and offering hard-won advice. Boeing chief executive Allen Mullaly told new Airbus chief and aerospace neophyte Christian Streiff, "Don’t give up. New airplanes are hard." Perhaps Streiff got Mullaly’s message, perhaps he didn’t. At his first press event since taking over Airbus, Streiff told reporters "We’re learning to be humble at this perfect company." Perfect company? Humble? What one thing doesn’t sound like another?

As Airbus continues being perfect, the aircraft they’re seeing at their 6 o’clock belong to Boeing. Boeing is studying how to bring its 747-8 Intercontinental within 10% of the A380’s 555-seat capacity. Initial findings show that by stretching the plane 18.3 feet and adding an upper lobe galley, Boeing would be able to seat 496 and still fly 8,000 nautical miles, its minimum range target. Boeing hopes to complete the configuration studies in the first quarter of 2007 and is targeting 2010 for entry into the fleet. Meanwhile, the company is touting the delivery of its 2000th 737 family aircraft to Southwest Airlines. Boeing reached the 2,000 milestone nearly seven years sooner than any manufacturer has on any other commercial jet airplane. The 737 is bread and butter for Boeing, which currently has unfilled orders for more than 1,365 737-7s, worth $91 billion. The Next Generation line of 737s has accumulated more than 24 million flight hours, flying more than 12 million flights.