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Edge goes to Boeing in neck and neck 2009 delivery race

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The never ending battle between Boeing and Airbus to claim the title of worlds biggest aircraft maker got a little bit tighter this week.

Through the third quarter of 2009, Airbus says it had delivered 358 planes to Boeing's 359. Each company says it plans to deliver between 480 and 485 aircraft this year.

While the rest of the civil market has taken a major production beating, especially on the business jet side, the commercial market has remained strong. There are more than a few people who are of the mind that 2009 deliveries are a significantly lagging indicator to the true state of the marketplace. Any pronouncement that Boeing and Airbus have weathered the storm of the global recession in production terms is a bit premature.

Suppliers to Boeing and Airbus are of the mind that production has to slow, with 737 and A320 rates likely to fall in 2010 or 2011.

Each company says that it has no plans to cut rate due to back-filling of orders to compensate for deferrals, but with the backlogs barely growing compared to previous years, back-filling is only viable for so long.

On the Boeing side, one needs only to look at history to see how the company works within the cycle. Without fail for the last half century, Boeing has announced a significant production cut on years ending in zero ±1 year. To quote Mark Twain: "History doesn't repeat itself - at best it sometimes rhymes"

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