By Dan Catchpole
Everett Herald writer
The Boeing Co. delivered more commercial jetliners in 2014 than in any other year, the Chicago-based company said Tuesday.
In 2014, it delivered 723 commercial airplanes and booked 1,432 net orders, which takes into account orders canceled last year.
Not counting the cancellations, Boeing logged 1,550 orders for jetliners.
“In the face of fierce competition, we had a strong year,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said.
The previous record year for deliveries was 2013, with 648 airplanes leaving factories. The previous record year for orders was 2007, when Boeing booked 1,423 gross orders and 1,413 net orders.
Boeing churned out 737s and 787s at record levels in 2014, helping push the company to the delivery record.
The new record is important because a customer writes the biggest check to the airplane maker upon delivery. Keeping deliveries high will help Boeing keep cash flowing as it brings several new commercial airplanes into service in coming years.
Wall Street analysts expect Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ 2014 revenue to have increased over the prior year. But that gain will likely be partially offset by declining revenue from the company’s defense, space and security side. The company is to announce 2014 earnings on Jan. 28.
Boeing apparently will beat rival Airbus Group in deliveries this year, according to a Tuesday Reuters report, which cited an anonymous source.
The European airplane maker is scheduled to release 2014 order and delivery totals next Tuesday.
It isn’t clear which of the two companies landed the most orders in 2014. By the end of November, Airbus had logged 1,328 total orders and, accounting for cancellations, 1,031 net orders.
As Issaquah-based aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton noted on his company’s website, Leeham News and Comment, “Airbus has a habit of finishing Decembers with a surge of orders, often topping the Boeing numbers.”
Boeing’s single-aisle 737 led the way with 1,104 net orders and 1,196 gross orders. The company delivered 485 of the airplanes, which are assembled in Renton. Boeing produces 42 737s a month there and plans to increase production to 47 a month in 2017 and to 52 a month in 2018.
Most of the orders — 891 — were for 737 MAX airplanes, which are to replace the current 737 Next Generation version.
Boeing’s newest airplane for sale, the under-development 777X, brought in 220 orders.
Its predecessor, the 777 classic, got 63 orders — 49 for 777-300ERs and 14 for the freighter version. Boeing executives have said they need to get between 40 and 60 orders per year for the next five years to keep the 777 line busy until airlines start flying the 777X.
Boeing wants to keep the 777 line at its current production rate of 8.3 airplanes a month. In 2014, it delivered 99 777s.
Dreamliner orders slowed this year, drawing only 65 orders. With cancellations, the net order total for the 787 was 41.
That doesn’t mean customers don’t like the airplane, though. Boeing has 843 orders for 787s, meaning that an order placed today likely won’t be delivered until late in the decade.
More important, Boeing delivered 114 Dreamliners in 2014, beating its goal of 110.
Boeing ramped up production in both Everett and North Charleston, South Carolina. The North Charleston plant turned out 34 Dreamliners, compared to only 14 in 2013.
Boeing has made improvements to address many of the biggest problems that have hampered 787 production. But some problems persist. For example, some interior work still has to be finished on the flight line at the Everett plant, and fuselage sections sometimes arrive from South Carolina with incomplete or incorrect work.
However, Boeing has greatly increased the plane’s production rate and added a new variant to the assembly line, the 787-9.
It was not a good year for Boeing’s two other Everett-built commercial jetliners — the 747 and 767.
The iconic 747 brought in only two orders, but two orders were also canceled, leaving Boeing with no net orders. Interest in the jumbo jet has been waning, and Boeing announced in December that it will decrease 747 production in September 2015 to 16 per year.
The airplane maker could land a high-profile 747 order in the next few years. The Air Force will start looking in 2015 for a replacement for the airplanes used to shuttle the U.S. president, better known by the call sign Air Force One. Today the Air Force flies two specially modified 747-200s for that mission.
Nineteen 747s were delivered in 2014, leaving Boeing with only 36 orders to fill.
Boeing got four net orders for the 767. The company has 47 outstanding orders for the plane.
But that doesn’t include 179 aerial-refueling tankers based on the 767 for the Air Force. Those orders will keep the Everett-based 767 assembly line working until 2027. The program logged its first test flight in late December.
The 1,432 net orders are worth $232.7 billion at list prices, according to Boeing. However, airplanes are often sold with large discounts.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: dcatchpole.
2014 Boeing deliveries