First-quarter production activity essentially kept pace with last year’s rates at the major airliner manufacturers, as Boeing delivered 121 airplanes (compared with 115 in 1Q/08) and Airbus shipped 116 (compared with 123 in 1Q/08). Unfortunately for both companies, book-to-bill ratios remained near zero, as neither ended the quarter with net order totals of great consequence.
Airbus could at least say it finished March in positive territory in terms of sales after booking firm orders for 16 airplanes during the month, raising its net total to eight. Boeing added orders for five 737s from an unidentified customer during the last week of the month–yet not enough to raise its order count out of red figures during the first quarter. However, on April 14 Boeing logged a firm order for eight 787s from Bahrain’s Gulf Air, lifting it too into net positive figures for the year, by four airplanes.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Embraer, which registered no orders for commercial airplanes during the quarter, delivered 32 airliners, which amounted to a 16-percent reduction in output compared with the same period in 2008. It expects to cut airliner production this year by 29 percent, from 162 to 115 airplanes. Although Canada’s Bombardier hadn’t as of this posting reported on its first quarter numbers (its fiscal quarter runs from February through April), it did record gross orders for 50 of its new C Series airliners and 15 Q400 turboprops between the months of January and March, and said it expected to deliver 10 percent more commercial airplanes this year than last, due to a boost Q400 rates.