Boeing sets commanding lead in 2012 deliveries race with Airbus

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Boeing has announced that it delivered 601 commercial aircraft in 2012, setting a high bar for Airbus to exceed to maintain its decade-old lead on yearly output totals.

The US-based airframer has trailed Airbus on deliveries of commercial transports in every year since 2002, but stepped up output in 2012 as demand for new, more efficient aircraft soared.

Airbus has not yet released 2012 results but would have had to deliver 86 aircraft in December to overcome Boeing's lead. Airbus averaged a monthly delivery rate of about 47 aircraft through November.

Boeing's total includes combined deliveries of 77 787s and 747-8s, split between 46 787s and 31 747-8s. That amount meets Boeing's target of between 70 to 85 combined deliveries of 747-8s and 787s, but misses the goal of a roughly even split between the two types.

Half of Boeing's yearly deliveries of 787s, or 23, occurred in the fourth quarter alone, providing a late boost to the overall total.

Boeing also delivered 83 777s overall and 26 767s to customers in 2012. Increased output of 737s also showed with 415 deliveries overall last year, including 105 during the fourth quarter.

In addition to the 737 mark, Boeing also delivered five 737-800ERXs that had been modified into P-8 maritime patrol aircraft on a separate production line in Renton, Washington.