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Despite 787 woes, Boeing orders rebounded in 2010

SEATTLE – Boeing sales rebounded in 2010 from a low the previous year, a turnaround that ensures the jet-maker will continue adding jobs.

Boeing announced last week that last year it sold a net total of 530 jets.

Those orders were worth approximately $49 billion at list prices, though according to data supplied by aircraft valuation firm Avitas, the value after standard discounts is estimated at about $30 billion.

That’s way down from the 2007 all-time high of 1,413 orders, with an estimated actual value of about $106 billion. But in this economy, it’s a solid recovery from 2009’s net order total of 142 jets, valued at just $4.2 billion.

The rebound came as the world’s airlines in 2010 soared away from two prior years of deep red ink. Projected to make $15 billion in global profits for last year, optimistic air carriers put down money for new jets.

Though the broad U.S economy has shown scant signs of sparking to life following a deep recession, in 2010 U.S. carriers United and American both placed big orders with Boeing. South American, Asian and Middle Eastern orders boosted sales even more.

The sales uplift came despite Boeing’s struggle to get its 787 Dreamliner program back on schedule.

Customers canceled orders for more than 40 Dreamliners during the year. And some other sales placed in the giddy record years before the recession also melted away, with airlines canceling orders for 30 large 777s and more than 20 single-aisle 737s.

Yet new sales of 625 jets more than made up for the 95 cancellations. The vast majority of the orders were for the Renton, Wash.-built 737 single-aisle jets and the Everett-built 777 wide-body jets.

Deliveries of Boeing jets from the Seattle area’s assembly plants were only slightly down in 2010 from a year earlier, again largely due to the prolific 737 and 777 programs.

Not only did no 787s get delivered last year, but no 747s were delivered either. There was only a trickle of 767s: one jet per month.

The future of the 767 now rests on the outcome of the Air Force tanker competition, expected later this month. Defense industry observers now doubt that Boeing’s plane will beat out the Airbus A330 for that contract.