Airbus looks set to retain the order-backlog crown despite Boeing's record sales last year when it booked an unprecedented 1,044 commercial aircraft net orders. This tally, which is 42 units more than its record 2005 performance, has pushed its backlog to a new high of 2,455, giving Airbus its first serious challenge in the order backlog stakes this decade.

The US airframer's 2006 year-end backlog rose by a third from the 1,809 total at the end of 2005. Boeing has been gradually closing down Airbus's five-year market share lead in the backlog from a low of a 42% share in 2004.#

Boeing orders

Airbus will report its 2006 results next week, but as of the end of November it had a backlog of 2,389 units and an 11-month tally of 635 gross orders and 399 deliveries. Airbus traditionally signs up a large number of orders in December that should see it retain the larger backlog, but with a substantially reduced advantage. However, it faces a mammoth task to retain the net order crown for a sixth successive year.

Boeing deliveries rose by over a third to make 2006 the highest output year since 2001 - when it delivered 527 aircraft - with production increasing from 290 aircraft to 398. Boeing's output is expected to rise a further 10% this year to around 445 aircraft.

Much of the 2006 growth has been driven by the 737, with deliveries increasing by 40% to 302. Production of the 777 has increased by over 60%, from 40 aircraft in 2005 to 65 last year.

For a full breakdown of boeing's 2006 figures, click here

Source: Flight International