But the Dreamliner has one huge advantage: a head start.
“The arrival of the 787 Dreamliner at the Farnborough Air Show will install a huge level of confidence for customers and suppliers alike,” Saj Ahmad, aerospace analyst at FBE Aerospace, told CNBC.com.
“They have witnessed a string of delays and challenges (and) many investors will see that achievement as a turning point for the troubled airplane and look to 2011 and beyond for more deliveries and higher revenues,” Ahmad said.
The Dreamliner’s first touchdown in Europe is an important milestone, but just one in a larger process, analysts said.
Boeing announced that the long-awaited aircraft could face further delays in the run-up to the event. Test flights for the 787 have raised issues with its instrument configuration, the company said.
“Everything changes when planes enter service. We don't now what the final production version will look like,” Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at Teal Group, told CNBC.com.
“If they can get it performing as advertised then they have a huge advantage on the market. It's actually what the market wants, but there are a lot of questions,” Aboulafia said.
Meanwhile, EADS' Airbus has been beset with internal disputes that mean it has allowed Boeing to catch up, Paul Beaver, independent aerospace analyst at Beaver Westminster, told CNBC.com.
"In simple terms Airbus will have missed the boat and the Dreamliner will now set the standard for future environmental friendly air travel," Beaver said.
But John Scholle, airlines analyst at IHS Global Insight said Airbus may even gain an advantage by biding its time.
The A350 could pull ahead when it comes to the cutting-edge technology that’s being developed because it has the time to perfect it, Scholle told CNBC.com.
And despite the longer time horizon, the A350 has attracted massive support within the industry and will continue to sell well, he said.
“While rumors of a delay may emerge, the (A350) has been a very big seller and will continue to generate significant business in the coming years as airlines phase out older airplanes and buy new, fuel-efficient jets in the drive for fuel and economic efficiencies,” Ahmad said.
Positives on Both Sides
Both companies could actually come out as winners.