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Boeing likely back on top as #1 airplane maker

Ashley Gross

Boeing appears to have reclaimed the crown from Airbus as the world’s top commercial airplane maker. 

Much of that stems from strong execution on the  787 Dreamliner, a plane that until recently was the butt of jokes for being three years late. Yair Reiner is an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

"For an industry that had grown really accustomed to having the 787 perpetually miss its targets, in 2012, it hit them," Reiner said.

Boeing boosted 787 production to five a month by the end of the year – something Reiner says few people expected - and delivered 46 Dreamliners.

Overall the company delivered 601 planes – appearing to top Airbus for the first time in about a decade. Airbus will report its deliveries two weeks from now. All but three of Boeing's planes were built in Renton and Everett. The rest were built in South Carolina.

Boeing also ended the year with a record backlog, more than 4,300 planes. But Reiner says there is something that’s a little troubling. Only on the 737 did Boeing take in more orders than it delivered.

"At current production rates, they could keep their factories humming for another seven years without another single order," Reiner said. "Despite that, I think that any company would like to have more orders coming in every year than products going out."

Boeing is seeing strong demand for its new 737 MAX, he says. But a sluggish economy is weighing on airlines, making them cautious about placing orders for other Boeing aircraft.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.