HUGE MISTAKE OR HUGE SUCCESS? AIRBUS ALL IN ON NEED FOR A380 - BUT BOEING STILL DOUBTFUL

It was an unlikely gathering of aviation rivals from opposite sides of the Atlantic. At the Four Seasons Hotel in Munich, Germany, officials from Airbus and The Boeing Co. had wrapped up two days of meetings with an extravagant dinner. But...


DELIVERY SCHEDULE

2007

1 plane, for Singapore Airlines

2008

13 planes, for Singapore, Qantas and Emirates

2009

25 planes

2010

45 planes (in full production)

A LONG, COMPETITIVE HISTORY

1970

Jan. 21: Pan Am inaugurates service with Boeing's first 747-100, from New York's Kennedy airport to London. Flight is delayed several hours by engine problems and a backup 747 is finally used. Plane carried 324 passengers. Flight lasted six hours, 10 minutes.

1989

Feb. 9: The 747-400 enters service with Northwest Airlines. Remains current version, though range and efficiency have improved.

1991

June: Airbus President Jean Pierson announces at Paris Air Show that Airbus will study development of a 600- to 700-seat plane, the first competition to Boeing's 747.

July: Boeing forms unit to study market for a bigger jumbo.

1993

January: Boeing and the French, British, German and Spanish companies that make up the Airbus consortium agree to jointly study the Very Large Commercial Transport. Meanwhile, Airbus continues its own work on what it calls the A3XX.

1995

April: Boeing pulls out of the joint effort with the Airbus companies. Boeing goes off to work on what will become known as the 747-500/600, while Airbus continues with the A3XX.

1997

January: Boeing drops plans for 747-500/600. Will focus on 777 derivatives.

1999

Late 1999: Boeing dusts off plans to stretch the 747. The 747X would cost about $4 billion to develop and have around 520 seats - about 100 more than the 747-400.

2000

October: Singapore Airlines shuns Boeing's 747X in favor of the A3XX. Will order 10 and take 15 options.

Dec. 19: Airbus gets final authority to develop the double-decker A380, previously known as the A3XX. Introduction set for early 2006. Development costs estimated at $12 billion.

2001

March: Boeing announces it has stopped work on the 747X to focus on the speedy Sonic Cruiser, which will fly at nearly the speed of sound. The Sonic Cruiser will later be shelved in favor of the superefficient 787 Dreamliner.

June: Airbus says it will develop freighter version of the A380, with 10-plane order from FedEx.

2005

Jan. 18: First A380 unveiled in Toulouse, France.

April 27: First flight of the A380.

May: Airbus notifies Singapore Airlines delivery of its first plane will be pushed back from March 2006 until the second half of the year.

Nov. 14: Boeing announces it will develop the 747-8 Intercontinental, which will carry about 50 more passengers than the 747-400. It will be the first stretch of the 747's fuselage. A freighter version will come first.

2006

June 13: Airbus announces major A380 delays because of wiring problems. Some customers will get planes two years late. The next day shares of EADS tumble. Former Airbus boss Noel Forgeard, now co-chief executive of EADS, which owns Airbus, is suspected of insider trading after it is revealed he made substantial profits from stock options sold before the bad news was announced.

July 2: Forgeard and Airbus boss Gustav Humbert resign. Louis Gallois replaces Forgeard at EADS. Christian Streiff replaces Humbert at Airbus.

Oct. 3: Streiff announces third major delay in A380 program. First plane won't be delivered until third quarter 2007.

Oct. 9: Streiff resigns. Says he does not have enough autonomy from parent EADS to make drastic changes necessary to turn around Airbus. He is replaced by Gallois.

2007

Feb. 28: Airbus announces plan to cut 10,000 jobs as part of major restructuring to become more efficient. Costs of the A380 program have soared to at least $18 billion.

March 1: Airbus suspends work on the A380 freighter after launch customer FedEx and then ILFC cancel their orders because of delays. UPS cancels its order shortly after.

July 16: The co-CEO management structure of EADS is simplified. Frenchman Gallois is sole chief executive. Tom Enders, his German counterpart, takes over as head of Airbus.

Oct. 3: News reports say French investigators found massive insider trading at EADS.

Oct. 15: First A380 delivered to Singapore Airlines in Toulouse. The airline unveils new interior, with 12 first-class cabins featuring beds.

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