Boeing booked 1,203 net orders in 2012, second only to the 1,413 of 2007, and benefited by a spurt of December deliveries, including 15 in one 24-hr. period, to reach 601 for the year.

Led by the 737 family’s 415, Boeing’s delivery count also was the company’s second-highest after the 620 total delivered in 1999, and marks a 124 improvement on 2011. The 777 continued as the company’s most efficient widebody assembly line with 83 deliveries in 2012, but the 747-8 and 787 also saw their rates climb. The other widebody totals were 31 747-8s, 26 767s and 46 787s.

The combined 77 747-8 and 787 deliveries met the company’s goal of 70-85 for the two models. It expected them to be split evenly, but weakness in the global freight market prompted a slowdown in 747 deliveries.

But the year represented a turnaround for the 787 program, which managed only three deliveries in 2011, all to launch customer All Nippon Airways. The program has now made 49 total deliveries and the airplane is being operated by eight customers on five, continents.

December was Boeing’s top delivery month with 51 aircraft, including 11 787s. The month also registered the single busiest day: In a 24-hr. period on Dec. 19-20, Boeing’s factories in Seattle’s Puget Sound region and North Charleston, S.C., delivered 15 aircraft.

The 737 family led the order count with 1,124, which Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner called “unprecedented for any of our models in a single year.” He noted that the newest version, the re-engined 737 MAX, achieved 914 net orders in the year.

With the Jan. 2 announcement of an order for 50 737-8s and 10 737-9s from Aviation Capital Group of Newport Beach, Calif., the MAX has now accumulated 1,029 firm orders.

The competition, Airbus’s A320NEO, had nearly a year’s jump on the MAX when it entered the market in 2010 and it remains the single-aisle to beat. Aviation Week Intelligence Network’s (AWIN’s) fleest database shows the NEO with 1,607 net orders.

Boeing recorded 1,339 gross orders for the year, but had 136 cancellations. All its programs were in the black for net orders except the 787, which was down 12 aircraft.

Airbus will report its 2012 orders and delivery totals Jan. 17. However, in November, it said it was headed for a delivery count that will exceed last year’s 534.

AWIN's fleets database estimates this year’s total deliveries as 582, including 451 for the A320 family, 101 A330-200/300s and 30 A380s. The A380 count represents good news for the ultra-large aircraft type; earlier in the year, Airbus was estimating deliveries of 28-29 units.