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March 2, 2024
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Boeing outperformed Airbus on orders in 2021, reporting net sales of 535 aircraft compared to 507 for its European competitor. With almost no deliveries of the 787, it was already clear Boeing would lose out on deliveries. The US airframer said on January 11 that it delivered 340 airliners compared to 611 for Airbus. Boeing beats Airbus on orders but loses out on deliveries.

Looking at the orders, Boeing had 909 gross orders last year, of which 749 MAX, sixteen 737-P8s, six 747-8Fs, 38 767-300Fs, 27 767-2Cs, 42 777Fs, eleven 777-9s, one 787-8, sixteen 787-9s, and four 787-10s.
Orders net of cancelations and conversions ended at 479, but Boeing reinstated 56 aircraft that had been removed from the 2020 backlog, including some fifty 777X. This brings net orders to 535.

There is another indicator for Boeings orders and that is the list of unfilled orders minus the so-called ASC 606 Adjustments, which are order positions that are unlikely to be taken up. Together, they present the net backlog. Total unfilled orders stood at 5.136, but minus 886 adjustments make 4.250. This compares to 4.223 by the end of 2020.

Thanks to new orders, the 737/MAX order book grew to 4.138 (2020: 4.031), but with 724 adjustments (710) makes a backlog of 3.414 (3.321). All 108 orders for 767s are solid, but the 777 and the 777X have seen 85 order adjustments that make a backlog of 311 (350).

Gross orders for the 777X still stand at 320, although Boeing said in February last year that it would amend the number as it lowered the program accounting quantity from 309 to 191 as it was expecting lower sales. The inclusion of the fifty 777X in the net orders again seems to indicate that Boeing is more positive of reaching higher deliveries of what will become the biggest passenger airline once it enters service in late 2023.

The 787 has also seen more adjustments: 77 last year compared to 44 in 2020. This brings the net backlog to 411 from 469 the previous year.

United took delivery of this 787-9 on April 6 via SMBC Aviation Capital, one of only fourteen Dreamliner deliveries in 2021. (SMBC)


By type, Boeing delivered 245 MAX, sixteen 737-P8s, and two BBJ-2s, or in total 263 single-aisle aircraft. After a slow start with only four deliveries in April, the MAX steadily improved until reaching 32 deliveries in December, although June was slightly better at 33. Top customers were Ryanair with 41 deliveries, United (21), Air Lease Corporation (21), Southwest (19), SMBC (15), and TUI Fly (13).

The 747-8F saw just seven deliveries, of which four in the final quarter. Boeing delivered nineteen 767-300Fs, sixteen of them to FedEx. There were also thirteen deliveries of the tanker variant 767-2C.

Turkmenistan Airlines received the only delivered 777-200LR, while seven 777-300ERs were delivered to Aeroflot, KLM, and Novus Aviation Capital. The 777F saw sixteen deliveries, with FedEx again in the top spot with five. Total 777 deliveries ended at 24.

2021 would have been so much better without the 787 quality issues, which resulted in a lengthy delivery pause since May. Only fourteen Dreamliners were delivered in a small window from March until May until Boeing and the FAA paused them again to investigate the cause of the quality problems and find remedies.  

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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