Boeing Tops Airbus in 2017 With New Jet-Production Record

SEATTLE (The Seattle Times/TNS) -

Boeing released its 2017 jet-order and delivery data Tuesday, confirming that for the sixth year in a row it was the world’s top manufacturer of airplanes.

In a new production record, Boeing built and delivered 763 airplanes in 2017, up from 748 jets the previous year. Its previous record was 762, set in 2015.

Boeing also reported a total of 912 net orders last year, up from 668 the previous year.

Airbus will report its final 2017 order and delivery figures on Monday. That data is expected to show it finished the year with just over 700 jets delivered.

What made the difference is Boeing’s production of the 787 Dreamliner, now rolling out at a rate of a dozen jets per month. The competing Airbus A350 jet is being delivered at roughly half that rate.

According to the definitive All Things 787 web database maintained by blogger Uresh Sheth, Boeing delivered 136 Dreamliners in 2017, of which 49 were assembled in North Charleston, S.C., and 87 in Everett.

Production in South Carolina was down from 61 jets the previous year, slowed by the introduction onto the assembly line there of the first models of the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10.

Boeing’s Puget Sound-area factories delivered a total of 714 airplanes.

Cuts to 777 production and slow rates on the 767 and 747 jets were more than made up for by increased rates on the 737 and the 787.

The Renton plant geared up its monthly production from 42 to 47 single-aisle 737 jets in the fall and ended with a record 529 jet deliveries for the year.

In Everett, the production rate of the 777 was slashed to just 3.5 jets per month in August as Boeing prepares to transition that assembly line to the new 777X.

However, 787 production in Everett at seven jets per month boosted total Everett deliveries for the year to 185 widebody jets.

On the orders front, Boeing’s tally of 912 is much better than many expected at the beginning of last year, largely because of a stellar year of 759 orders for the new 737 MAX. Those orders were balanced by some cancellations of the older 737 models so that the 737 family of jets ended the year with 745 net orders.

Orders for the 787 Dreamliner also began to accelerate in 2017, with 94 net orders versus 58 the previous year.

However, Airbus will almost certainly once again win the annual order race — for the fifth successive year.

Airbus had a flurry of large single-aisle sales wins late in the year, including a massive order for 430 single-aisle A320neos from private equity firm Indigo Partners, which backs a string of low-cost carriers around the world.

That Airbus order victory is the last hurrah of longtime sales chief John Leahy, who is set to retire at the end of this month.