Boeing’s commercial aviation business has taken a beating in the press this year, thanks to multiple fires that caused a worldwide grounding of its 787 Dreamliner jets. But buyers don’t seem to be bothered by the headlines. When the company released its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday morning, it revealed a better-than-expected 13 percent jump in profits –driven in part by new orders for the 787.
“The support for this airplane remains high,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a conference call. “Our customers have shown an ability to appreciate the game changing nature of this aircraft, and also to appreciate that safety has increased overall dramatically… it’s up tenfold in the last 30-40 years, and I think the public knows that.”
In January, international aviation officials grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners worldwide, after battery problems led to smoke and fires on several flights. Boeing developed a fix to the problem, and the fleet returned to the skies in May. But just two weeks ago, another 787 caught fire while on the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. Investigators believe that fire was caused by human error, not a 787 design flaw, yet the incident still put another smudge on the jet’s reputation.
But now it appears none of it has been enough to scare away buyers. Last month, Boeing launched a new stretch variant of the Dreamliner, the 330-passenger 787-10, and said it already had orders for 102 of the jets from companies including GE Capital Aviation Services, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.
Then this morning, the company revealed that its Commercial Airplanes division booked $40 billion in new orders during the second quarter, and has an overall backlog of nearly 4,800 airplanes valued at a record $339 billion. More than 1,000 of them are 787 variants.
Revenues in the Commercial Airplanes division were up 15% year over year for the quarter to $13.6 billion, and for the company as a whole, profits were up 13% to $2.03 billion. Boeing also raised its earning estimates for the full year, saying the company now expects revenues between $83 billion and $86 billion, up from $82-$85 billion.