It's been two months since Boeing (NYSE: BA) confirmed plans to accelerate production of its super-successful 737 airliner to a record 42 planes per month...

But check your "six," Boeing investors. Airbus is hot on your heels. Last week, Airbus announced that it is also planning to pick up the pace of production -- specifically on the A320 jet that poses the 737's stiffest competition. Already cranking out A320s at the rate of 36 a month, Airbus now plans to ramp up to 40 by early next year, and then to 42.

In fact, says Airbus, if suppliers such as Eaton (NYSE: ETN), General Electric (NYSE: GE), and Honeywell (NYSE: HON) can take the stress, Airbus might even stomp on the gas and race past Boeing to a 44-planes-a-month production plan! (Considering Boeing's kept these same firms cooling their heels for three years, waiting for the 787 program to get back on track, I suspect they've got the capacity.)

Foolish takeaway
Both Airbus and Boeing are racing to dominate a market for transport aircraft that's expected to hit $4.7 trillion in value over the next 20 years. In so doing, they're ramping capacity and pushing supply chains to the limit -- accepting razor thin margins on some contracts, and hoping to make it up on volume. But … does any of this sound familiar to you, folks?

To me, this race to the "top" carries a worrisome echo of Toyota's run for the "No. 1" spot in global market share. That run not only contributed to General Motors' going bankrupt, but to Ford's near-death experience … and Toyota's own implosion. Whoever winds up winning the race for global aircraft market share … let's hope it doesn't turn into a Pyrrhic victory.

Will Boeing keep its eyes on the profits ball, or get caught up in a race to the bottom? Add the stock to your watchlist and find out.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.