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The Battle Between Airbus And Boeing

"Why Airbus is losing altitude" (News: European Business, June 20) was an interesting article that highlighted the current problems encountered by the leader in civil aviation manufacture. In the same issue of the magazine there is an article lauding Boeing and its 787 Dreamliner ("A plastic dream machine," News: The United States, June 20).

We have to look at both articles more closely. If we look at technology, Boeing, which has been dragging its feet for years, is trying to make a quantum leap to have the 787 become the first large composite civil airliner. Composite materials are a major part of the A380 strategy: The all-important central caisson of this plane is composite, as are many other major components, but the body and wings are still mostly aluminum. Boeing's 787 Dreamliner isn't flying yet, and revolutionary new technologies can lead to delays, as Airbus is discovering. The A380 is flying and will enter service, if a little late, in 18 months time. The wonderful new composite technology used in the B787 that may change this won't be flying in Boeing's livery until late 2008.

Boeing's recent problems have been openly portrayed in your pages, and Airbus deserves to be dealt with in just as honest a manner. Qatar Airways has signed up at the Paris Air Show for 60 A350s and 20 Boeing 777s. This invalidates a lot of the doom-saying in your article concerning this plane and Airbus. The return of Boeing as a major player and true competitor to Airbus is good news for the airline companies and the industry as a whole. But today the main player in the civil aircraft industry is Airbus, not Boeing.

Gerald Capon

Managing Director

Sunbelt Software EMEA

Rueil-Malmaison, France

I felt compelled to point out the contrast and linkage between "A plastic dream machine" on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and "Why Asia will eat our lunch" (Books, June 20) on Clyde Prestowitz's Three Billion New Capitalists. While the U.S. government may not be the most efficient at industrial policy, it is one of the few remaining sources for brokering mega-ideas. Just as Prestowitz refers to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) invention and brokering the Internet, the technology for Boeing's plastic dream machine, the 787 Dreamliner, came out of big idea and knowledge brokering led by NASA (Advanced Composite Technology program), DARPA (Affordable Composites for Propulsion program), as well as know-how from major Defense Dept. and commercial technology investments. More than $1 billion of government and industry technology investment has enabled today's technology readiness for the 787. If the government does not continue to broker mega-ideas and technology, the U.S. will fall behind.

Richard Holman

Long Valley, N. J.

Jeffrey E. Garten's "The dangerous silence of business leaders" (Economic Viewpoint, June 20) seems to spell out some doom and gloom right-wing conspiracy to strong-arm corporate chief executive officers, and says that "large companies and CEOs are being intimidated from playing a constructive role in public policy." Hasn't he noticed how short the performance honeymoon of any CEO is? CEOs have enough to focus on just keeping their jobs without getting into public policy debates and issues. Equally, politicians have enough public policy to work on without getting involved with something they know nothing about -- business.

Furthermore, the leadership styles and purpose of each is entirely different: CEOs are not elected by their workers, and politicians are not thrown out because of a bad quarter. A better idea would be to tell each of them (the CEOs and politicians) to get out of each other's way, because neither is suited for the other's job.

Paul Pease

Hermosa Beach, Calif.

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