Competition between Airbus and Boeing is a result of the two companies' duopoly in the market for large jet airliners since the 1990s, a consequence of mergers within the global aerospace industry over the years. Airbus began as a consortium from Europe, whereas the American Boeing took over its former arch-rival, McDonnell Douglas, when the latter became defunct and merged with the former in 1997. Other manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin and Convair in the United States and British Aerospace, Dornier and Fokker in Europe, have pulled out of the civil aviation market after economic problems and declining sales.
The changes in the 1990s in the Eastern Bloc and the former Soviet Union has put its aircraft industry in a disadvantaged position, although Antonov, Ilyushin, Irkut, Sukhoi, Tupolev, Yakovlev and the newly merged United Aircraft Corporation continue to develop new passenger aircraft and maintain a small market share. The Chinese aviation industry is currently developing and producing two jet- and several turboprop-powered airliners in increasing but still small quantities. Two Chinese wide-bodies are also proposed.
Airbus and Boeing have, since the end of the 1990s, possessed a duopoly in the global market for large commercial jets comprising narrow-body aircraft, wide-body aircraft and jumbo jets. However, Embraer has gained market share with their narrow-body aircraft in the Embraer E-jets series. There is also a similar competition in manufacturing regional jets between Bombardier Aerospace and Embraer.
In the last 10 years (2003–2012), Airbus has received 7,714 orders while delivering 4,503, Boeing has won 7,312 orders while delivering 4,091. Competition is intense; each company regularly accuses the other of receiving unfair state aid from their respective governments.
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“Playing games with agreed upon rules helps children learn to live by rules, establish the delicate balance between competition and cooperation, between fair play and justice and exploitation and abuse of these for personal gain. It helps them learn to manage the warmth of winning and the hurt of losing; it helps them to believe that there will be another chance to win the next time.”
—James P. Comer (20th century)