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Oct. 24, 2021

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Boeing returns 28 jets to skies, including 22 Maxes

Recovery uneven with more orders, cancellations

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With global domestic air travel recovering haltingly from the pandemic downturn, Boeing delivered 28 commercial jets in July, including 22 of its single-aisle 737 Maxes.

Data released Tuesday shows Boeing through July had delivered 154 Maxes to airlines since the jet returned to service in the final days of last year.

Nine of those delivered last month were the high-density 737-8200 version built specifically for Ireland’s Ryanair. Most of the rest were aircraft parked during the Max’s prolonged grounding and taken out of long-term storage.

However, with long-haul international travel still more than 80 percent down from pre-pandemic levels, the data shows Boeing delivered just five widebody aircraft last month. Those were four freighters and one refueling tanker for the Air Force — but not a single widebody passenger jet.

On the sales front, Boeing won 31 gross orders in July but also had 17 orders canceled.

And in a further adjustment made in July, orders for 10 widebody 787 Dreamliners were removed from the backlog because those planes were deemed no longer likely to be delivered due to contractual or financing issues.

That’s almost certainly because of the ongoing problems with fuselage manufacturing flaws that have caused more than 100 undelivered 787s to stack up in storage.

With one 737 Max restored to the backlog as Boeing managed to firm up that contract again, the upshot of all the additions and removals was that Boeing’s net order tally for the year — which in previous months was boosted by big Max orders from Alaska, Southwest and United — bumped up in July just three aircraft, to 270 jets.

New orders

Boeing won new orders in July for 19 Maxes, including six more from prime customer Southwest, while orders for 15 of the same jet were canceled.

About 450 Maxes are still left in storage from the grounding. About half of those are expected to be returned to the skies this year and most of the rest the next year. Boeing still has 3,272 unfilled orders for the Max.

The U.S. planemaker also booked orders for 12 of its more expensive widebody jets, including seven freighter models and five 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft. Separately, orders for two 787s were canceled.

That’s in addition to the dozen Dreamliner orders removed from the official backlog because they are now considered unlikely to be fulfilled.

This shrinking of the 787 backlog is likely a result of the manufacturing flaws that have bedeviled the 787 Dreamliner program since last year and left more than 100 of the jets unable to be delivered until the Federal Aviation Administration approves Boeing’s fixes and inspection protocols.

Unless Boeing can soon solve the 787 problems, it’s likely the delivery delays will enable more customers to cancel their contracts.

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