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March 2006 edition

Deep Stall: The Turbulent History of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Written by P Lawrence and D Thornton

Ashgate Publishing

Price: £30

Reviewed by Des Hickie

This slim volume will be a very interesting introduction to the modern civil airframe industry for any reader new to the subject because although its primary focus is on Boeing, it contains potted histories of Airbus and of the demise of both Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas as manufacturers of airliners.

For the more knowledgeable reader its primary interest will be in the authors' thesis that over the past 30 years Boeing has managed to lose its competitiveness in civil aviation and has ceded primacy to Airbus. The authors present the case both forcefully and convincingly in chapters 6 and 8, which are really the heart of the book. They attribute Boeing's decline to a mixture of lack of investment in new technologies, too great a concern with short term shareholder value, and poor management.

The book is an excellent introduction to the political economy of civil aviation, as it places great emphasis on Boeing's intimate relationships with the US government since 1915 and the shrewd ways in which the company was able to use public money and technologies, developed for military purposes, as a basis for advances in its civil markets.

It also provides a lucid account of the ways in which Boeing-Airbus competition has been played out in international trade negotiations.

However the book has its structural weaknesses, in particular a tendency to digress and meander away from its main theme. In addition, in a postscript on the launch of the 787, the authors' speculation about Boeing's future competitiveness in a way rather detracts from their thesis.

To receive a 15% discount please quote reference code G05CF when placing your order to the contact details below. Gower Publishing Direct, Sales, Bookpoint limited, 130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4SB, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)1235 827730 Fax: +44 (0)1235 400454

Email: ashgate@bookpoint.co.uk

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