The commercial aircraft orders record set by Boeing in 2007 could be short-lived as Airbus has more than enough commitments awaiting confirmation to overtake its rival when it declares its final tally on 16 January.
Boeing broke all records with the 1,413 net orders it signed last year. It racked up 287 orders in December, pitching its full year net sales beyond the record of 1,055 set by Airbus in 2005, and beating its own record of 1,044 set in 2006.
Flight estimates that Airbus’s declared gross orders for 2007 is around 1,300 aircraft (adjusting its 30 November order update with the 99 orders that it announced in December), but this is certain to escalate as it traditionally reveals a raft of new orders at its annual press conference in January.
The Airbus 2007 order tally is artificially inflated as it includes a number of reconfirmations of existing A350 orders by customers who had placed orders for the original model and converted to the XWB. As such, the European manufacturer had 109 cancellations to the end of November.
While the cancellations drop Flight’s estimate of Airbus’s net orders to around 1,200, the airframer still has the capability to repeat earlier last-gasp order victories if it has managed to firm up enough of its outstanding commitments.
Airbus needs to have secured roughly 220 more orders to ensure that has beaten its rival – a challenge that is more than feasible given that according to Flight’s ACAS database it had some 690 order commitments that were placed during 2007 that it had not announced as firm by year-end.
While it is unlikely that all these will have been finalised, there are some strong candidates including deals from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise for 100 aircraft and British Airways for 20 aircraft - both these customers firmed up their Boeing orders in December. Other major outstanding commitments include 160 from China Aviation Supplies Group, 61 from Grupo Marsans and 50 each from Qantas and Tiger Airways.
So while Airbus’s year-end gross order tally will remain a closely guarded secret until 16 January, it looks likely to exceed the Boeing record and could feasibly be as high as 1,700 aircraft.