Once again confirming the continued strong growth in commercial aviation, Boeing had a record year in 2006, spurred by unexpectedly strong demand for its most profitable wide-body models. This provides evidence that the current boom in commercial aviation may be at least two years longer than predicted.
Boeing booked orders for 1,044 new planes last year, a company record that could push its order count past that of European rival Airbus for the first time since 2000. Boeing had originally predicted that 2006 would be a letdown from the then unprecedented 1,002 orders during 2005. Instead, airlines lined up to place orders for all sizes of Boeing jetliners, ranging from a record 729 single-aisle 737 to 76 orders for wide-body 777s and 72 four-engine 747s. The Dreamliner continued its streak as the best selling Boeing wide-body, with 157 orders.
Boeing delivered 398 planes in 2006, three more than predicted. Some analysts believe both Boeing and Airbus will reach peak production rates in 2010 or 2011, with Boeing delivering 570 airplanes and Airbus delivering about 470. Analysts agree that Airbus and Boeing together will collect a combined 1,000 orders in 2007. If so, that will mean that the two manufacturers will have gotten a total of almost 4,500 new orders since 2004.