Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY
Boeing is ending 2012 on a high note.
For the first time in a decade, the Seattle-based company is ending the year as the world's No. 1 airplane manufacturer, outselling and delivering more jets than its closest competitor, the French company Airbus, the Seattle Times reports.
Boeing's tally for commercial jet deliveries this year is 585. It's the highest total ever, excluding 1999, when the last-of-the-line McDonnell Douglas jets bumped up deliveries.
According to the Times' end-of-year analysis of Boeing, the order total for airplanes reached 1,121 in mid-December. That's second only to the all-time sales record of 2007.
Boeing marketing executive Randy Tinseth told the Times that he expects future jet programs to do well in 2013, including the 737 MAX and the 787-9 and the still-to-be-launched 787-10 and 777X derivatives of its twin-aisle jets.
He said he expects the 747 market to improve and that there's no plan to cut production for now, even though orders for the new 747-8 have slowed down.
Boeing executives have also dismissed concerns over a potential strike by engineers and technical workers after tomorrow.
Labor woes aside, Boeing has become an essential employer in Washington state.
The company added almost 5,000 new jobs in Washington state in 2012. The year before, 8,300 new workers were hired, the Times reported.
Boeing's in-state workforce has reached almost 87,000, the highest since 1999.
Executives told the paper that hiring will pick up again after the holiday lull, with an orientation class for 190 new mechanics beginning Jan. 4.
Much of Boeing's success this year can be attributed to strong sales of a new more fuel-efficient version of its narrowbody jet, the 737 MAX, which will debut in 2017, the paper reports.
As of mid-December, Boeing had sold 969 MAXs.
The company is trying to speed up construction of the planes. This spring, Boeing will bump up the monthly rate of construction of its 737s at its Renton, WA, plant from 35 planes to 38, the Times reports.
But Airbus still poses a significant threat with its rival A320neo, which preceded the MAX by eight months and has so far outsold it by more than 680 firm orders.
Airbus scored a major victory earlier this month when Pegasus Airlines of Turkey ordered 75 neos, "becoming the first all-Boeing 737 customer to make a complete defection," the paper notes.
Can Boeing catch up? Tinseth says there will be plenty of MAX orders in 2013.
And when it comes to widebody jets, Boeing still has the edge with its 787 Dreamliner.
As of mid-December, there have been 844 cumulative orders of the Dreamliner, the Times reports.