Updated Monday, November 26, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Airbus accused Boeing of making misleading claims about its planes’ performance and ridiculed its competitor with an advertising campaign showing a Boeing jet nose grotesquely elongated to resemble Pinocchio’s.
The ad, which appears this week in trade publications including Aviation Week and Flight, asserts Boeing is “stretching the truth” to promote its aircraft. Boeing said it stands by its performance claims.
“They crossed a line when they started running specific numbers,” Airbus sales chief John Leahy said. “They’ve blatantly misrepresented the facts.”
The bickering highlights the stakes in the $70 billion commercial-aviation industry as the companies fight to trump each other in orders.
Airbus is set to lose its delivery lead this year for the first time in almost a decade, after Boeing overcame production delays and began shipping its new 787 Dreamliner to customers.
Airbus and Boeing are both drawing comparisons with each other’s narrowbody aircraft, the industry’s workhorses, and their four-engine A380 and 747-8 jumbo jets.
Leahy said Airbus was driven to act only after Boeing ran ads with specific claims about the alleged superiority of its 737 MAX over the A320neo, and its 747-8 over the Airbus A380.
The MAX ad claims the plane’s costs on a per-seat basis are 8 percent less than an A320neo’s.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus wrote to Boeing’s general counsel complaining the numbers are “wildly out of line,” and placed ads targeting airlines only after Boeing failed to respond, Leahy said.
Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in an email that ““we’re confident in our performance claims based on our historical and projected performance for the airplane.”
The manufacturers have promoted competing planes with different sets of numbers for decades, each choosing parameters that would give its own model an edge with buyers.
An Airbus advertisement shows the nose of a Boeing jet elongated to resemble Pinocchio’s. The ads are appearing in aviation trade publications.