A surge of customer interest in the 737 MAX and record orders for the 777 demonstrated Boeing's continued strength in both its single- and twin-aisle product offerings in 2011 as the company recorded 805 net orders.

The 777 was the constant star, setting a one-year order rate of 200 airplanes. The 300-365-seat aircraft solidified its role as the industry's dominant large twin-engine jet. The 1,000th unit is to be delivered in March.

Meanwhile, the 737 Next Generation family continued to attract orders, although it was overshadowed for much of the year by the Airbus A320NEO. Boeing's response to that reengining program—the 737 MAX—was slow off the block. But the new jet, which is to be delivered in 2017, finished the year on a high note with a firm commitment of 150 from Southwest Airlines.

Counting Southwest, MAX now has more than 1,000 orders and commitments from 15 customers and the company expects that number could reach 1,400-1,500 by the end of this year.

Altogether, Boeing accrued 921 orders. The 737NG series and the 787 suffered the most noteworthy attrition. Total orders for the 737 dropped from 625 to 551 once cancellations were accounted for.

The 787 gross order count rose by 45 during the year, but cancellations dropped the real gain to just 13 aircraft. The orders included four from Air Lease Corp., 10 from Etihad, six from Oman Air and 25 from an unidentified customer, which is thought to be Air France.

Some of the 787 cancellations were driven by ongoing delivery issues, but others reflected changes in strategy as carriers reconsidered whether a long-range 200-plus-seat airplane still met their needs. China Eastern fell into that category when it opted to swap 24 787s for 45 737-800s. The 747-8 lost one net order, while the 767 surged with 42.

Airbus has not released it 2011 figures, but is likely to record more than 1,600 gross orders. Its great strength came from NEO, which has passed the 1,200 firm order mark. Like Boeing, Airbus suffered its share of cancellations in an up-and-down year for airlines. But its net order intake is still likely to top 1,500. As for deliveries, the European company expects to top 530.

Boeing's commercial factories achieved 477 deliveries in 2011, four shy of 2009's mark, which was the best of the new century. At 477, Boeing did not quite achieve its goal of 480. That was revised down from a 485-495 target as factory reports in the third quarter made it clear that expectations for 747-8 and 787 deliveries were overly optimistic.

Early in the year, executives speculated that as many as 40 747 and 787s would be delivered, roughly split. But it became clear that the slow pace in achieving change modifications to 787-8s would make this expectation impossible to meet. A new mark of 15-20 deliveries—two-thirds from 747-8s—was set. Actually, nine 747-8s and three 787s were delivered.

Boeing squeaked the third 787 delivery, Line No. 31, onto the 2011 tally by recording it as “delivered” in documents signed Dec. 30. But All Nippon Airway's (ANA) pilots did not actually takeoff for Tokyo until Jan. 4.

The fourth ANA aircraft, Line No. 41, powered by the updated Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package B variant, is expected to be delivered within the next few days. Both No. 41 and Line No. 9 were to be delivered last year; the new schedule says mid-month.

Line No. 35, the production-standard airframe destined for completion of certification of the 787 with power from General Electric GEnx-1B engines, is slated to be tested in mid-January. The completion of that task will clear the way for delivery of the first GE-powered 787, Line No. 23, to Japan Air Lines, probably in late February.

Boeing CEO/Chairman James McNerney says the “vast majority” of 787 change-incorporation work involves the first 40-45 aircraft, but some could persist up to Line No. 60.

The Line No. 51 787 is now completing assembly in Everett, Wash. Counting deliveries already made and six test aircraft, 42 787s have left Boeing's factory doors and are awaiting modifications and testing prior to delivery.