Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Difference Between Bigger and Better

There's a lot of buzz right now about a 1000 passenger A380.  As you may know, I prefer to call the A380 the Double Decker Death Trap.  I may not be liked by a number of Airbus employees and fans because of this, but there are many reasons why I worry about the safety of the A380, and moreso a 1000 pax version.

There's a phrase, "The bigger you are, the harder you fall."  Airbus has been number two for a long time.  The reason?  An iconic plane called the 747 (and I'll tack on the 777 as well).  Boeing has always built a better plane, but right now there is a lot of uncertainty in the Chicago headquarters.  Customers are frustrated with the 787 delays, and Boeing has yet to make a decision about a 737 replacement or re-engine.

As is often the case with an anxious company, Airbus feels that they have a lead right now.  They've got the A320NEO, and the A380 flying (well, minus when the engines blow up), and the A350WXB is well on its way with over 500 orders.  Often when a misguided underdog takes the lead, they want to put a great distance between them and their number two.  So Airbus calls for the 1000 seat Double Decker Death Trap.

Airbus, stop, and think.  Is this the best thing to do, or are you trying to compensate for years of being number two?  When Boeing decides to improve on something already great, they extend it some, and change the wing design and systems, not double it in size.  Think about the publicity that could bring: "1000 people dead after A380 falls out of sky for no apparent reason."  Or worse, Air France Pilot error takes the Double Decker Death Trap to its grave (What?  Think that can't happen: AF447 - pilot error,  AF4590 - pilot error [if you don't agree with me on this one, bring it.])

What I'm trying to say is that bigger isn't always better, and the slow and steady company will win this race.  Plus, I'm not riding in an oversized sardine can.

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

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