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Boeing poised to stay largest plane-maker

– Boeing is poised to keep the title of world’s largest plane-maker for at least two more years amid rising deliveries of the delayed 787 Dreamliner, the jet that helped it beat Airbus for the first time in a decade.

Boeing shipped 46 Dreamliners last year, pushing total commercial jet deliveries to 601. That beat its top delivery forecast of 600 planes, including 42 of the 787s. Airbus, which held the No. 1 spot since 2003, won’t report 2012 figures until Jan. 17. It handed over 516 jets through November with a goal of 580 for the year.

While neither plane-maker has given forecasts yet for 2013, Chicago-based Boeing’s announced production increases indicate it will build more than 660 aircraft this year, compared with Airbus’s planned output of over 600. That would be a record for Airbus and contribute to a combined industry high.

“It’s the Dreamliner finally delivering on the dream,” said Yair Reiner, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. “The aircraft that has been the bane of Boeing’s existence for so long finished 2012 exceeding Boeing’s stated expectations.”

Production of the 787, the new composite-plastic jet that was more than three years behind when it entered service in late 2011, is set to double this year to 10 jets a month. Boeing is boosting total airliner output more than 60 percent in the four years through 2014 in response to customer demand for more fuel- efficient equipment.

Deliveries mark a 26 percent gain from 2011, when Boeing shipped 477 airliners and fell short of its target for 787s with just three.

Net orders climbed 49 percent to 1,203, led by purchases of single-aisle 737s, which more than doubled as Boeing offered an upgraded version with new engines. The total was the second- largest in the company’s history, leaving its backlog at a record 4,373 jets.

“As I look at 2013, fundamentally it’s lining up a lot like we saw last year,” Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s marketing chief, said in an interview. “We expect to see continued strong demand on the single-aisle side.”

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