I have been wondering if it has been a common practice within the commercial airline industry for an aircraft manufacturer to purchase a brand new aircraft model built by their competitor and to then perform an extensive safety inspection and/or stress test of that brand new aircraft model.

I am not an aircraft engineer and I have never worked in the airline industry. I am asking this question simply out of intellectual curiosity.

For example, did Boeing purchase a brand new Airbus A380 back in 2007, which was the first year of its production, and then did their own extensive safety inspection and stress test of that A380?

Or, as another example, did Airbus purchase a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2011, which was the first year of its production, and then did their own extensive safety inspection and stress test of that 787 Dreamliner?

Does Boeing and Airbus perform extensive safety inspections and/or stress tests on each other's aircrafts?

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    $\begingroup$ It has become painfully obvious that Boeing don't even spend the money to inspect their own aircraft, why would they spend hundreds of millions of dollars inspecting aircraft that are not their responsibility? $\endgroup$ Apr 18 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JörgWMittag, I was thinking perhaps both aircraft manufacturers will voluntarily do this for the benefit of the general public -- as a way of backing up the other manufacturer's claim that their new aircraft is truly well-built and truly safe to ride on. $\endgroup$
    – user57467
    Apr 18 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JörgWMittag, also, I don't think the other question answers the question of whether it has been a common practice in the past for Boeing and Airbus (or another aircraft manufacturer) to voluntarily test a brand new aircraft model to verify the claimed quality of that aircraft by its manufacturer. $\endgroup$
    – user57467
    Apr 18 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Note: they avoid as much as possible "extensive and stress" tests on own aircrafts: they are very costly and possibly dangerous (the test pilots do not have a full knowledge of the aircraft, and for such test they need to disable many protections and go very outside published limits of aircraft). I;m not sure if authorities will allow that -- Do the result will help them? $\endgroup$ Apr 19 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


No. What advantage could they possibly hope to gain by doing so?

Everything there is to know about commercial airliners is available in excruciating detail, submitted to FAA and EASA in millions of pages - the paperwork to certify an aircraft tends to weigh as much as the aircraft itself or more. It's not difficult to get a lot of that information and certainly not worth doing your own testing on an airframe to learn.

Northrop, Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed did perform their research on Mikoyan and Sukhoi aircraft, though, and Sukhoi did on some of theirs, but even there the object of research was the engines and the avionics, not the airframes. These are combat aircraft with everything except the bare minimum about them classified as TS/SCI or SI.

That wouldn't be needed for airliners: their avionics are documented extensively in operator manuals, and their engines are built and sold by Rolls-Royce, GE, PW or Safran, not Boeing/Airbus themselves.

  • $\begingroup$ In fact, in some cases, Boeing and Airbus actually use the same engine. (More precisely, variants of the same engine.) $\endgroup$ Apr 18 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Therac, I have always been a strong believer in a new product being field tested by an independent organization or by a competitor of the product's manufacturer. Case in point, Consumer Reports will do their own field testing of all brand new automotive models. $\endgroup$
    – user57467
    Apr 19 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ @user57467: "Consumer Reports will do their own field testing of all brand new automotive models", I wonder how many were independent enough to reveal the dieselgate before EPA and CARB stepped in. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Apr 19 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ @mins Consumer Reports is a bad example, but what is true is in the EU, manufacturers submit cars to independent labs for tests like emissions and crash safety, and government approval is based on those results. In the US, these labs are under contract with the government instead. In fact, one of the major US vehicle labs does aircraft testing as well. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    May 7 at 18:25

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