Boeing’s backlog of 787 Dreamliner orders was cut by 14 in September when Russian airline Aeroflot canceled its 2007 order for 22 Dreamliners — 18 of the smaller 787-8s and four 787-9s — while the company booked one new order from Air New Zealand for eight of the largest 787-10 model.
The lost order is a cause for concern in Everett because the 787 backlog is dwindling fast as the company aims to roll out the planes at a rate of 14 jets per month.
Boeing has been seeking new 787 orders to ensure it can maintain that high production rate, which is now critically important with the cash flow from the 737 MAX blocked by that jet’s grounding.
Boeing now has a total order book of 1,450 Dreamliners through September, with 894 of those delivered. The 556 still to be delivered, split roughly 50:50 between the two production sites in Everett and in North Charleston, S.C., leave 40 months of work at the 14 jets per month rate.
Boeing will have to win significant 787 orders in the next two years to avoid a production-rate cut in 2022.
The lost Aeroflot order was worth $5.5 billion at list prices, although according to data from market valuation firm Avitas, allowing for standard discounts, the real value is about $2.7 billion.
The list price of the new Air New Zealand order is $2.6 billion, though the Avitas estimate for the real value is about $1.2 billion.
Boeing reported total deliveries of 63 commercial jets in the last quarter.
From the Everett widebody assembly plant, that included a single 747-8 jumbo jet, a dozen 777s and ten 767s, as well as 35 Dreamliners split between Everett and North Charleston.
Due to Hurricane Dorian pushing out some September deliveries in South Carolina, the Dreamliner delivery rate came down to just less than 12 jets per month from the 14 per month the previous quarter.
Notably, the 747, ten of the 777s and six of the 767s were freighter models, not passenger jets. The other four 767s were refueling tanker models for the U.S. Air Force.
Boeing’s Renton commercial jet deliveries are frozen by the grounding of the 737 MAX, although Boeing did deliver from there five of the 737-based P-8 military planes used for maritime surveillance and submarine hunting.
Boeing also won its first MAX order since April, for one VIP private jet version. However, it also saw two cancellations of VIP 737s in September, so that new order may just be a re-sell of the canceled plane at a lower rate. Or it may be an upgrade of a 737NG VIP order, rather than a brand new one.
European jetmaker Airbus in the last quarter delivered a total of 182 commercial jets, including 128 single-aisle A320s that compete with Boeing’s 737.
This story was corrected early on Oct. 9. The previous version cited the wrong figure for the number of months of 787 production remaining in the backlog.