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Boeing 737 jets
Boeing’s 737 jets accounted for well more than half of a record-high 806 deliveries during 2018. (Boeing Illustration)

Boeing says it delivered a record-high 806 airplanes in 2018, with single-aisle 737 jets accounting for well more than half of those deliveries.

The record pace comes despite a 737 delivery backup that hit the planemaker’s plant in Renton, Wash., last summer due to problems with suppliers such as Spirit AeroSystems and CFM International. The company said 69 planes were delivered in December.

Last year’s tally bests the previous record of 763 deliveries in 2017, but falls just short of Boeing’s target of 810 to 815 deliveries.

Boeing’s order backlog grew as well. The company said 893 net orders came in, with a list-price value of $143.7 billion. That’s just slightly below 2017’s tally of 912 net orders. Boeing recorded 203 airplane sales in December alone, contributing to what’s now a seven-year backlog.

Wall Street greeted today’s news positively, boosting Boeing’s share price by more than 3 percent in midday trading.

Kevin McAllister, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a news release that “Boeing raised the bar again in 2018, thanks to our teammates’ incredible focus on meeting customer commitments, and continuously improving quality and productivity.”

Boeing said 580 of its 737 jets were delivered in 2018, with the fuel-efficient MAX variants accounting for nearly half that total. The runner-up category was the 787 Dreamliner, with 145 deliveries for the year. There were 48 deliveries of 777 jets, 27 deliveries of 767s, and six deliveries in the 747 category.

The 767 deliveries include the transfer of 10 aircraft to Boeing Defense, Space and Security for the U.S. Air Force KC-46 tanker program. Boeing had hoped to deliver the first KC-46 to the Air Force during 2018, but missed that target — reportedly due to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ surprise end-of-year departure from the Pentagon’s top post.

The Wichita Eagle quoted sources as saying that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan can’t approve KC-46 deliveries because his past role as a Boeing executive poses a conflict of interest.

Boeing’s European archrival, Airbus, hasn’t yet announced its delivery totals for the past year, but Reuters quoted unnamed sources as saying that Airbus “provisionally hit” its target of 800 deliveries.

Update for 11:25 a.m. PT Jan. 9: Airbus confirms that it delivered 800 airplanes in 2018, which set a company record. That tally includes 20 jets in the A220 series. The A220, previously known as the Bombardier C Series, is the focus of a deal between Airbus and Canadian jetmaker Bombardier that formally took effect last July. Airbus said it recorded 747 net orders in 2018, compared with 1,109 net orders in 2017.

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