US manufacturer Boeing set an industry record for aircraft deliveries in 2017, driven by the humming production lines of its 737 and 787 jets.
The plane maker delivered 763 aircraft in 2017 to give it top ranking for the sixth consecutive year.
Airbus is due to reveal its deliveries on January 15 and is expected to come in behind Boeing at just over 700 planes.
It raised production on its 737 program to 47 aircraft a month as it began delivering the new 737 MAX. This gave it a record 529 delivers for the year, including 74 MAX aircraft.
Plans are in train to further increase the 737 production rate to 52 per month this year.
The 787 continued to be produced at the highest rate for a twin-aisle jet to deliver 136 aircraft for the year.
Also delivered were 74 777s, 10 767s and 14 747s that included two destined become Air Force One jets for the US president.
“The record-setting performance is a testament to our employees and supplier partners who continue to innovate new ways to design, build and deliver the most fuel-efficient airplanes to customers around the world,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister said in a statement.
The company booked 912 net aircraft orders from 71 customers. It said these were worth $US134.8 billion at list prices. The list price is the publicly available price of an aircraft but airlines negotiate significant discounts so the actual value will be significantly less.
This boosted the company’s production backlog to record 5,864 aircraft at year’s end, equal to about seven years of production.
“The strong sales activity reflects continuing strong demand for the 737 MAX family, including the ultra-efficient MAX 10 variant that we launched last year, and the market’s increasing preference for Boeing’s family of twin-aisle jets,” said McAllister. “Our planned production increases over the coming years are designed to satisfy this robust demand.”
The net orders included 745 737s, 60 777s and 94 787s.
Net orders for the B747 went backwards by 2 as cancellations outpaced the six gross orders for the year. Boeing is now producing 747 freighters at a rate of one every two months and the aircraft’s future remains uncertain.
The company said major commercial aircraft milestones during the year included the first flights of the 737 MAX 9 and the 787-10 Dreamliner, and the start of production of the 737 MAX 7 and the new 777X.
High load factors and rising global traffic are expected to keep the demand for aircraft high