In item one: Reuters reports today that Boeing has filed comments with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), criticizing the design of the fuel tank on rival Airbus' (OTC:EADSY) new A321XLR narrow-body jet. In Boeing's estimation, the A321XLR's design, which integrates an extra fuel tank into the airplane's fuselage, "presents many potential hazards" for risk of fire, especially in the event of, for example, an emergency belly landing by the plane.
And in a separate item, Reuters notes that a start-up manufacturer of supersonic jets that Boeing is backing, Aerion, has signed up Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) NetJets subsidiary as an early customer, taking purchase rights to buy 20 of Aerion's planned AS2 supersonic business jets.
Aerion has a $10 billion order backlog for the AS2, and plans to begin production of the plane in 2023, ultimately building up to 300 units of the plane in its first decade of service -- giving Boeing a piece of the action. (It's not known precisely how big a stake Boeing owns in Aerion, however.)
2023 is a significant date for the other story, as well, inasmuch as Airbus plans to introduce its A321XLR into service late that year. If Boeing's objections force a design change, however, Reuters notes that this could delay A321XLR's maiden flight into "2024 or beyond."
The longer it takes for the A321XLR to start flying, of course, the more opportunities Boeing will have to convince Airbus customers to not buy Airbus's airplane at all, but to instead buy an "all-new" Boeing long-ranged aircraft that the company plans to compete with the A321XLR.
In short, Boeing has just tossed a metaphorical monkey wrench into Airbus' engine, and potentially gained itself enough time to catch up and compete with its archrival in the all-important long-range, single-aisle segment of the air travel market.