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Friday, February 04, 2005

Two Weeks Late: Airbus vs. Dreamliner 

As always, a TWL post is a rumination on some serious issue of the day, but long after anyone else still cares.

In today's post, the subject is the recent introduction of the Airbus A380, the famous double-decker of the skies, coming to an airport near you sometime in 2006 or later.

Of course, the rebuttal was delivered by loyal opposition Boeing, in the form of the 7E7 (recently recoined the 787) Dreamliner. The Dreamliner is touted as a smaller, more efficient approach to transoceanic flight, at least when compared to the A380.

After being inspired by Colby Cosh's article on these planes, I went so far as to correspond with him n a half-assed idea I had about the role of the Boeing entry. Mr. Cosh was kind enough to correct me on some misapprehensions, both of his article and of the role of the Dreamliner, and I took them to heart. To wit: I don't think Southwest will be buying these anytime soon.

But now I have a whole new misapprehension. I think that Boeing may have designed the 787 around the ideas of Southwest, but in a different venue. Right now, Southwest just does one thing: point-to-point US flights, using 737s.

Now imagine something similar but bigger: what if you wanted to do point-to-point transoceanic flights on the cheap, using a single type of aircraft, for all the reasons that Southwest does that?

I submit that once you came up with this idea, your dream plane would be a high-efficiency aircraft with a moderate but not monstrous passsenger capacity. I submit that Boeing has deliberately built their new plane with for such an intercontinental cheap-o airline, even though such an airline doesn't really exist right now. But maybe such an airline will be inspired by Southwest, or the existence of the 787, and thence be generated, and with a little luck, fly 787s.

Given the success of Southwest and its imitators, this seems like a pretty good bet.

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