Boeing Co. reported record jet deliveries for 2013 as the world’s largest planemaker sped the production tempo of its 787 Dreamliner after battery fires grounded the aircraft for three months early in the year.
Boeing handed over 648 planes, a 7.8 percent increase from 2012 and the most ever in a single year, after dispatching record numbers of 737, 777 and 787s, according to a statement today. The Chicago-based company delivered 65 Dreamliners in 2013, up from 46 in the previous year.
The results moved Boeing to the brink of retaining its crown as the world’s largest planemaker for a second straight year. Airbus SAS, which hasn’t released 2013 results, trailed Boeing through the first 11 months of the year, when the Toulouse, France-based company tallied 562 deliveries.
Aircraft sales and output are surging as carriers globally take advantage of low-cost financing to replace older models with newer, fuel-sipping jets. Boeing’s 1,355 net orders for the year were the second-highest annual sales tally, and an increase from the 1,338 a year earlier.
Combined commercial sales for the two biggest planemakers could reach about 2,800 orders worth about $250 billion, Howard Rubel, an aerospace analyst with Jefferies Inc., wrote in a Jan. 3 report.
Airbus reported 1,314 net orders for the year through the end of November. The planemaker could nose out Boeing with a higher annual sales tally after recording 50 firm A380 orders from Emirates in December.
Boeing halted deliveries of the 787 after regulators ordered the global fleet grounded as they and the planemaker investigated electrical system issues that caused lithium-ion batteries to smolder on two of the jets.
After satisfying regulators and customers with its safety fixes, Boeing accelerated the 787’s production rate with a goal of reaching 10 jets a month by year’s end. That’s the highest-ever output for a wide-body aircraft model.
Boeing’s ability to generate cash with sales and deliveries of profitable models such as the 777 and 737 has helped win over investors, with the shares up 81 percent in 2013. The stock rose 0.6 percent to $138.41 at the close in New York.