Boeing’s delivery pace slowed in the first quarter of 2024 as it addressed quality and safety concerns.

Despite those challenges, the company still logged a strong quarter for new orders, thanks largely to several deals reached in March. 

Those included a commitment from American Airlines for 85 737 Max aircraft and orders for 28 777-9s – eight from Ethiopian Airlines and 20 from an unnamed customer, according to data released by Boeing on 9 April.

Also on the bright side, Boeing in March continued ramping deliveries of the 737 Max to Chinese airlines, a move in the right direction as it seeks to divest a significant number of undelivered jets.

Gol first 737 Max

Source: Boeing

Boeing delivered two 737 Max aircraft to Brazil’s Gol in the first quarter of 2024

The first-quarter order and delivery activity paints a mixed picture for Boeing, reflecting a company working to recover from a production slow-down initiated following the 5 January in-flight failure of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9’s mid-cabin door-plug – an event investigators suggest resulted from Boeing’s failing to install door bolts.

At the same time, Boeing continues landing new orders, even as it lags competitor Airbus.

The US manufacturer’s first-quarter deliveries came to 83 aircraft, down from 130 in the same period of last year; Airbus shipped 142 aircraft in the first quarter.

Boeing’s first-quarter deliveries included 67 737s, three 767s, 13 787s and no 777s. Among the 737 deliveries were 17 jets handed to Chinese carriers, including eight in March alone.

Deliveries to Chinese airlines only recommenced in January, following a lengthy pause which began when regulators grounded the Max in March 2019.

The airframer declines to specify why it delivered no 777s in the first quarter. However, reports have surfaced about possible shortages of the twinjet’s GE Aerospace GE90 turbofans.

A 5 April report from financial firm Jefferies noted that Boeing has been moving 777s, without engines installed, out of its factory before fitting the powerplants later.

Asked to comment about its supply of GE90s, Boeing says, “As the aviation industry continues to manage through supply chain constraints, we are working closely with our suppliers and customers on the timing of their deliveries.”

GE Aerospace adds, “We are coordinating with Boeing and our airline customers on GE90 engine delivery timing and production schedules.”

Boeing’s aircraft orders bumped higher in the first quarter, when it landed deals covering 131 jets, up from 120 in the first quarter of 2023; Airbus took orders for 170 jets in the first three months of this year.

March was particularly strong for Boeing on the order front, with airlines signing for 113 aircraft – including American’s 85-strong 737 Max 10 deal and Ethiopian’s commitment for eight 777-9s. The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet certificated either of those types.

Airlines cancelled orders for five jets in the first quarter of 2024 – a marked improvement compared with the number of cancellations Boeing received in recent quarters – leaving the airframer with 126 net orders in the period. The company also made accounting adjustments last quarter that left its backlog with five fewer aircraft.

As of 31 March, the backlog stood at 5,668 aircraft, including 4,357 737s, 101 767s, 491 777s and 719 787s. By comparison, Boeing’s backlog stood at 4,555 aircraft one year ago, and at 5,626 at end-2023.