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Boeing still lags Airbus in jet orders and production, may soon resume 787 deliveries

June 14, 2022 Updated Tue., June 14, 2022 at 7:53 p.m.

A new Boeing 787 Dreamliner emerges from the 787 final assembly factory in Everett on July 24, 2020.  (Seattle Times )
A new Boeing 787 Dreamliner emerges from the 787 final assembly factory in Everett on July 24, 2020. (Seattle Times )
By Dominic Gates Seattle Times

Monthly data from Airbus and Boeing for May shows the European giant still ahead of its U.S. rival in orders for the year and well ahead in production.

On the production side, Airbus has delivered 237 commercial jets this year through May to Boeing’s 165 jets.

However, Boeing may soon get approval to resume 787 Dreamliner deliveries, which would begin to readjust that imbalance.

Orders are trickier to compare, since Boeing removes from its order book any prior sales that have grown uncertain and are unlikely to be fulfilled. Airbus doesn’t make public that detail from its order book.

Boeing added 14 orders in May net of cancellations, though it also removed a further five airplanes from its official order book as too uncertain to count as firm orders – which brings the net total down to nine orders in May and a total of 107 jet orders for the first five months of the year.

Airbus booked 13 net orders in May. And it cites a total of 191 jet orders through May, net of cancellations, but without the adjustment for uncertain orders.

The comparable Boeing figure, ignoring the orders now considered uncertain, is 171 jet orders through May.

With the year’s big aviation event, the Farnborough Air Show, just a month away – after two successive years when the European Air Shows were canceled due to the pandemic – the two manufacturers will likely book scant further orders in June as they and their airline customers save up the order announcements for the big show.

787 deliveries may resume soon

On the production side, Boeing is still shackled by its inability to deliver 787s until the Federal Aviation Administration approves its plan to inspect and fix the fuselage defects on those jets.

That burden, however, is likely to be lifted in the coming weeks.

According to an FAA official close to the process, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is not public, the safety agency recently accepted Boeing’s recertification plan for the 787s.

The FAA has asked Boeing to deliver a few extra items of test and analysis before the plan is final, but they won’t require it to be resubmitted, the person said.

This suggests Boeing is close to the approval it needs.

It seems likely Boeing will have the green light to rework and start delivering 787s again ahead of Farnborough, which is held outside London in mid-July.

May orders and deliveries

Meanwhile, Airbus has its own production issues on a lesser scale, due to pandemic-related supply chain issues that affect both manufacturers.

In May, parts delays led to reduced jet deliveries at Airbus and a buildup of undelivered planes.

Airbus delivered 47 jets in May, down from 48 in April and again short of the current announced production rate of 50 jets per month.

The Airbus deliveries included six widebody passenger planes, plus 37 A320neo family jets and four smaller A220s.

Boeing delivered 35 jets in May, including 29 of its 737 MAXs, one 737-based P-8 anti-submarine jet for the U.S. Navy and five widebody airplanes.MAX production remains slow due to supply chain delays.

The bigger jets delivered included one 747-8F cargo plane for Atlas Air. Only three more of those venerable jumbo jets remain to be delivered, all three for Atlas Air.

Boeing also delivered one 767 airframe to its defense unit for conversion to a U.S. Air Force KC-46 tanker.

And it delivered three 777F cargo jets, to DHL, Emirates and China Cargo.

Boeing’s gross orders in May included a previously announced order by German carrier Lufthansa for seven 777FX freighters, two current model 777F freighters and seven 787-9s.

Airbus’ May orders included four A350-900s for Turkish Airlines.

In addition, IAG ordered six A320neos and two A321neos. And an unidentified customer ordered an A220-100.

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