There is so much innovation going on in the US today that even Boeing is back as an innovation leader. For a while, it looked like Boeing’s days as a commercial jet pioneer were over, with the company mired in scandal, moving from Seattle to Chicago and loosing its focus by shifting more to defense. Europe’s Airbus clearly took the lead with the jumbo 380 and with more high-tech innovation overall.
But the Boeing 787 is turning out to be a brilliant hit, not only because it is so fuel-efficient in an era of high energy prices but because it is a point-to-point jet that carries you directly from one city to another around the world. No hub. And we all hate the hub model which forces us to stop over and wait, not only for another plane but for the weather. Don’t get me wrong. Airbus is a terrfic, innovative company that makes great products. Where would JetBlue be without its Airbus jets?
But it is nice to see Boeing back in the competition. Boeing is going to build a bigger and more fuel efficient 747 to directly challenge the Airbus jumbo 380 for planes with 400 seats or more. The new 747-8 will borrow the fuel efficiency from the 787, including the GEnx engines. It will carry about 450 passengers compared to the 380’s 550, but may require much less of the rebuilding of airports that the giant Airbus will need.
So Boeing is back in the innovation game. Yet I still miss the great Sonic Cruiser that Boeing engineers wanted to build but management decided to pass on. Oh, c’mon Boeing. Build this beauty!
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