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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Why I Love Airbus So Much

In the dog-eat-dog world of high-end global industry, a defective product from one manufacturer will often hand big bragging rights to a competitor. Enter the Boeing 787.

In press comments this week by Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier however, the European plane maker said:

"It's not our place to give Boeing lessons, we've had our own problems in the past. I honestly wish all the best to my colleagues at Boeing to put this aircraft back in flight. I don't bet on the difficulties of a competitor in order to build Airbus' success." (1)

I love this humility. He calls his rivals "my colleagues". He's not out to score points or rub Boeing into the ground.

Bregier is relatively new to the top job at Airbus. But this is not just his sentiment. This is the Airbus culture. Maybe even the entirely European culture. 

Photo: Planebuzz.com
When Boeing rolled out the first 787 for the worlds' cameras, prematurely but deliberately on 8 July 2007 (07/08/07 in American date speak), both Boeing & Airbus knew it was only held together with the airplane manufacturing equivalent of sticky tape. Nonetheless, then Airbus CEO Louis Gallois sent this message to Boeing CEO James McNerney:

“On behalf of the global Airbus team, I would like to offer you and your Boeing colleagues our congratulations on the rollout of your first 787 aircraft. Today is a great day in aviation history. For, whenever such a milestone is reached in our industry, it always is a reflection of hard work by dedicated people inspired by the wonder of flight. Even if tomorrow Airbus will get back to the business of competing vigorously, today is Boeing’s day – a day to celebrate the 787.” (2)

How many companies do you see "celebrate" their opponents product launch? Do you think Boeing has ever returned the sentiment? No. 

And note that all this was happening at a time when Boeing was dragging Airbus through World Trade Organisation litigation. Nonetheless, Airbus chose to bless those who cursed them. I know a higher authority than the WTO that would smile on that. 

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