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Boeing just misses goal with 806 aircraft deliveries in 2018

Boeing continues to shatter its own commercial aircraft production records, delivering 806 airliners in 2018 as it feverishly boosted 737 production rates while sidestepping ongoing supply chain shortages.

Still, the company fell slightly short of a goal to hand over 810 to 815 commercial aircraft during the year.

The 806 figure, which surpassed Boeing's previous record of 763 deliveries in 2017, largely reflects the company's seemingly endless quest to satiate booming narrowbody demand by moving more and more 737s out of the door.

Of the 806 deliveries, 580 were 737NG or 737 Max aircraft. Boeing also delivered six 747s, 27 767s, 48 777s and 145 787s, it says.

Boeing's total deliveries are slightly more than the 800 aircraft Airbus handed over in 2018. Airbus has yet to detail its 2018 deliveries by type.

"In a dynamic year, our production discipline and our supplier partners helped us build and deliver more airplanes than ever before to satisfy the strong demand for air travel across the globe," says a Boeing media release.

"Dynamic" is perhaps a fitting description of Boeing's last 12 months, during which the manufacturing giant advanced several major aircraft programmes while coping with global shortages of major components, including fuselages and engines.

The company is moving forward with 777X production and still expects to deliver the first aircraft in 2020.

In 2018, Boeing boosted 737 output from 47 to 52 aircraft monthly while also transitioning production away from the 737NG and toward the 737 Max.

The transition complicated production for Boeing and suppliers like fuselage maker Spirit AeroSystems, contributing to a 737 production rate that slipped to just 29 aircraft in July 2018.

Boeing has since upped its game, hiring new workers and signing a new pricing deal with Spirit that also calls for capital investments if 737 production rates increase further.

Signaling those efforts are paying dividends, Boeing delivered 173 737s in the fourth quarter – an average of about 58 monthly.

The production boom comes about four years after a frenzied period during which airlines worldwide rushed to order new aircraft, pushing sales figures to previously unimagined highs. Boeing, for example, received orders for 1,432 aircraft in 2014.

The order wave has since subsided significantly, but Boeing still managed in 2018 to land net orders for 893 new commercial aircraft, valued at $144 billion in list prices, roughly in line with the 912 orders it landed in 2017.

As expected, Boeing's 2018 sales success rests largely on deals involving 737s (the backlog for which now stretches seven years), although the company also sold hundreds of widebodies.

In 2018, Boeing took orders for 675 737s, 18 747s, 40 767s, 51 777s and 110 787, it says.

Boeing "showed particular strength in the twin-aisle category with 218 widebody orders last year," it says.

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