The introduction of wide-body planes in the 1960s ushered in a new era of air travel for aircraft makers, airlines, and the masses. These mean machines are still the blue-eyed boys of Boeing and Airbus , since they offer high margins. The battle for grabbing a bigger slice of the wide-body market is always red-hot, and both jet makers are forever engrossed in this fierce tussle. Airbus has been a leader in the narrow-body segment and has been fighting tooth and nail to match Boeing’s dominance in wide-body. Let’s find out each one’s score in this tug of war by peering through the duo’s top-selling wide-body aircraft in the past decade.
…from then till now
In the last decade, Boeing delivered around 1,100 wide-body planes while Airbus has dispatched 1,035. Boeing’s wide-body models have included the iconic 747, the 767, the 777, and the latest 787, while Airbus’ offerings have been the now phased out A300, A330, A340, and the A380 jumbo jet. The newly developed A350 will enter service later this year. However, in the last 10 years, the two wide-body jets that have dominated the market are the 777 and the A330.
Since the time the 777 entered service in 1995, the aircraft has flown more than 18 million hours . Boeing also takes pride in the fact that the 777 has a dispatch reliability rate of 99.3%. Dispatch reliabitily refers to an aircraft’s performance on job, as in whether it flew according to schedule, or if maintenance issues held it back. A rate above 99% is ideal.
In addition to being Boeing’s top-selling wide-body plane, the 777 is the company’s second best-selling model since 2002. In the past decade, the company has delivered 692 777s, and 2013 was a record year, with 89 deliveries. Boeing boosted the production rate in the latter half of 2012 from 7 to 8.3 a month.
Boeing may have pioneered wide-body aircraft with the introduction of the 747 jumbo jet, but Airbus is no less ambitious. For the Toulouse-based manufacturer, the A330 has been the most successful long-haul plane in the past 10 years in terms of its own delivery count. The A330 entered service in 1994. Serving more than 100 airlines across the globe and offering one of the lowest operating costs in this range, Airbus claims of one of the best dispatch reliability rates of 99.4% .
The company has delivered 764 A330s in the past decade. Every year, it managed to deliver more than the previous period, barring 2011, when delivery matched its previous-year level at 87. In 2013, deliveries peaked at 108. The A330 currently has a production rate of 10 a month.