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Birds of Prey: Boeing vs. Airbus: A Battle for the Skies Paperback – April 14, 1998

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1568581071 ISBN-10: 1568581076 Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Even though the aviation industry has only about 100 important customers in the whole world, presidents and prime ministers have become its leading sales representatives. That's because so many purchases soar into the multi-billion-dollar range. The international rivalry between Boeing (a U.S. company based in Seattle, Washington) and Airbus (a European consortium centered in France) has become a foreign policy priority for their respective governments. Boeing completely dominated the skies for many years, but massive government subsidies have made Airbus a serious challenger. In Birds of Prey, Matthew Lynn tells the story behind some of the biggest business deals in the world today. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The business of building and selling civil airliners is of supreme importance to governments as well as industries; billions of dollars and equivalent prestige are at stake. Written by an economics writer for the London Sunday Times, this story of the fight between Boeing and Airbus to develop and sell a midrange passenger jet to the world's carriers begins with a history of the industry from the Boeing and European perspective, then narrows in on the recent transatlantic war, which still has no victor. Lynn's treatment of the political, industrial, and social turmoil surrounding the sale to major carriers of a stable of aircraft of various payloads and ranges has all the intrigue and skullduggery of a spy novel. It is better done than his aviation history, but this area has been slighted by the press and makes for compelling reading.?Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2 edition (April 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568581076
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568581071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,833,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Lynn (London, UK) is an experienced financial writer and commentator. He is a business and economics commentator for Bloomberg Television, columnist for Bloomberg News, as well as Money Week in the UK, and associate editor and columnist for the Spectator magazine in London. Before that, he worked for The Sunday Times in London for ten years as a business writer and columnist. Under the slightly different name, Matt Lynn, he is also the author of the 'Death Force' series of military thrillers published by Hodder Headline.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Colin Saunders on June 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have been an aviation enthusiast for most of my life. The commercial aviation world is particular dear to me. Although I am but an amateur follower of the industry, I am fairly certain that I understand it better than does Mr. Lynn.
First, allow me to report on the unforgivable mistakes in his book. Lynn's work is rife with typos and spelling mistakes (in a revised edition!). It is uncoordinated in many places and reads as though different sections were, hurriedly, written at different times and then given to an editor to splice together. "Hodgepodge" best describes Mr. Lynn's style.
Also unforgivable are the numerous mistakes of fact and gross misrepresentations to be found in "Birds of Prey." To be blunt, the B-17 was not a commercial failure (although, due to the hodgepodge nature of the book, I'm not actually certain Mr. Lynn really means to say this). The Boeing 707 was developed first as a military tanker and then as an airliner (using government-owned tooling, a "subsidy" Lynn totally misses, all the while slinging barbs at Airbus for receiving similar government aid). By stating that, because he was a lawyer by training, Bill Allen (father of the Boeing 747, among other aircraft) was not, and could not have been, an "airplane guy," is ludicrous. Bill Gates never finished his computer studies, so perhaps it follows that he can't be a "computer guy."
There is a regulation, which covers all twin-engined commercial flights over water, called ETOPS. This well-known rule states that twins cannot be certified to operate water routes unless manufacturers can show that the aircraft can safely remain aloft for 2-3 hours following an engine failure. It seems Mr.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Atkins on October 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good analysis of the ongoing battle between Airbus and Boeing, with a great deal of historical material on the birth and growth of the two antagonists. Especially interesting for American readers is the story of Airbus and its birth from the ashes of Concorde, a subject generally ignored or glossed over in the US aviation press.

Annoying is the lack of aviation expertise on the author's part ( a fine business writer, if this book is any example) such as swallowing the old canard about Britain building only fighters in World War II and leaving the postwar big airplane market to the Americans with their bomber experience. This ignores an awful lot of Avro and Handley Page bombers over Germany, and a swarm of US fighters over the entire world. British civil aviation failures are covered (incompetence of the Brabazon committee, BOAC not knowing what it wanted, the Concorde debacle, etc.) and I am surprised that the editor let a few howlers get by.

All in all, this is a very good book about the state of civil aviation just before the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Claudio Bompadre on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
This work on Boeing (USA) and Airbus (Europe or what they call UE) competition is undeniably compelling. Unfortunately some faults about technical aspects make it a little bit incomplete. Anyway, once the book has caught the reader attention (forgiving the mistakes) it is hard to throw off its spell.
A precious facet is the historical reconstruction of political and economical process, describing the post war crises of aeronautical companies in Europe in the civil market. Emerging from the war, european countries were eager to start a new life. The aeronautical skill (grown during belligerent times) was put to work in leading program like the Comet, Caravelle, Trident, BAC 1-11, etc. . Unfortunately management and political control were so conservative that they were unable to drive the new technology evolution in full swing. So each european State basically never developed a sound industrial strategy (i.e. for shortsighted nationalistic interest). The nemesys of national designs and firms (as autonomous entities in the market) led to the pooling of energies called Airbus. This part of the book is quite organic and it is a clever description of cut-throat struggle with another arab phoenix like Boeing (the company emerging from internal US competition).
Many technical flaws appear from the narrative, two are important for the plot. First,Boeing 707 project was a masterpiece being the first design that made civil aeronautical "know-how" to grow fully (so far for DC-8 and Convair 880). Initially it was developed as a strategic tanker and, of course, research & development funding was available to boost the design during the cold war.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is full of errors. Setting aside the numerous typos, we find out that Saudia ordered 31 aircraft (actually 60), that the king of Saudi Arabia is named Faad (Fahd), that the A300 is wider than the DC-10 (1.5 ft narrower), that Japanese airline JAS under Boeing pressure has only bought 1 Airbus A300 (33) and so on.
These mistakes might be easier to overlook if the premise of the book were substantiated. It is not. The author (perhaps betraying his European background) claims that Airbus has succeeded to the point where it is now about to eclipse Boeing due to pugnacious management, investment in technology, and enlightened government support, evident in subsidized product development and sales prices, and political support of sales campaigns. Boeing, in contrast, has persisted with its obsolete models and is about to become a footnote in history.
This is quite a courageous thesis that sounds like it came from Airbus' promotional materials. In Lynn's w! orld airlines do not care about the cost and range performance of aircraft. The sole determinant is government pressure.
Airbus is unstoppable? Consider that the A300-100/200 (191 sold), A300-600 (243), A310-200 (79), A310-300 (170), A340-200 (29), A340-800 (0), and A340-300 (169) have been commercial failures and not sold the 400 usually thought to be breakeven. Boeing's 767 is approaching 800 sales and has a long future ahead. The 777, although only 3 years old, is a clear winner also (375 sold). It is questionable if any Airbus widebody currently flying or available will ever breach the 400 sales mark.
There is no denying that the Airbus A320 family of narrowbodies has been a major success. Airbus likes to compare them favorably with the Boeing 737/757.
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