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An aspect of this story I've not seen addressed (and if it has, please point me to references): commercial large-aircraft aviation has achieved an impressive safety record through a process of continued incremental safeety refinements, but in doing so it seems to have created several notable path-dependencies both locking in old designs and strongly resisting new ones, particularly in larger aircraft. The Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner are notable exceptions, and each has proved problematic -- the A380 being discontinued in 2021 (238 presently built), and cost overruns, delays, andconcerns with both aircraft. The 737 series has seen over 10,000 aircraft built since 1968 (compare against 1,551 for the 747, introduced the same year). Boeing's jet airframes fundamentally trace back to designs from the early 1950s (367-80), and its first cemmercial passenger jet, the 707, was only retired this year, having seen first service in 1958.

Airbus's 737 MAX competitor, the A320 neo/ceo, is based on the A320 series first introduced in 1986, with about 8,900 aircraft built.

Looking at development cost for these aircraft over the years (and considering failures including Boeing and Concorde SST) is instructive, all prices ~2001-2019 dollars (or other currency), launch date in parenthesis:

    367-80: $149 (1954)
    707: ? (1958)
    737: ? (1968)
    747:  $7.2 billion (1968)
    Boeing 2707 SST: ? (cancelled 1971)
    Concorde: £7.67 (1976)
    A340: $3.5 billion (1986)
    A340neo: >$1.3 billion (2012)
    787 Dreamliner: $32 billion (2007)
    A380: €25 billion (2003)
    737 MAX: $3 billion (2014)
The possible exceptions are smaller aircraft development scaling up 9Embrar and Bombardier, notably), and possible entry by Chinese manufacturers (COMAC), each of which skewers the path-dependency risk from different angles



Clarifying; R&D budgets were million for the 367-80 and billion for Concorde.




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