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Boeing 2007 orders obliterate 2006 record

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Jan. 4, 2008 at 8:09 am with No Comments »
January 4, 2008 8:09 am

Boeing Co. sold 1,413 airliners last year, the company announced late Thursday.

That’s 369 more than the company’s record high of 1,044 set last year.

The magnitude of those figures was no surprise to aerospace analysts who had watched Boeing win new orders at a frenzied pace all year.

Here are the 2007 totals plane by plane:

737 — 846

747 — 21

767 — 36

777 — 141

787 — 369

Last year’s orders bring total orders for the 787 Dreamliner to 817, the highest order level for a plane before its first flight. The composite-bodied airliner is expected to fly for the first time in March.

But even that stratospheric achievement may not win Boeing the crown for the most orders in a year. Boeing’s rival, Airbus, had logged 1,204 orders by the end of November not counting dozens of committments for new orders made at the Dubai Air Show.

Whether Boeing wins the honor of the world’s biggest aircraft seller or not, matters little. Given the magnitude of orders in 2007, Boeing’s Puget Sound aircraft assembly plants will be buzzing with work.

Last year’s record follows two previous years in which the company sold more than 1,000 aircraft. Even if Boeing ratchets up yearly production to 525 aircraft a year from the 441 it produced in 2007, the company’s backlog of orders(3,427) will take 6 1/2 years to reduce to zero even if no airline ordered a single plane in the meantime.

Here’s the plane-by-plane situation and the time it will take to produce the aircraft given present production rates:

Aircraft– Backlog–Production Rate–Booked through

737– 2076– 30/month– Sept. 2013

747– 125– 2/month– March 2013

767– 52– 1/month– May 2012

777– 357– 7/month– March 2012

787– 817– 10/month– Nov. 2014

Both Airbus and Boeing executives expect 2008 orders to fall to more normal levels if only because the industry has little more capacity to deliver new aircraft in the next few years.

But more potential orders remain to be harvested. Most major U.S. carriers, have yet to commit to renew their fleets.

American Airlines needs to replace more than 300 of its aging MD-80 jets. Northwest has a big inventory of DC-9s that are three decades old and older.

United need new long-haul and mid-sized widebodies. Delta has ordered some new 777s, but will soon need to replace the 767s that are the backbone of its international fleet.

If oil prices keep climbing and airline fares can’t keep pace, some of the huge backlog can disappear, but the orderbook is so full and Boeing’s been so conservative in ramping up production that its unlikely a downturn could trigger cyclical layoffs anytime soon.

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