Increased sales of Airbus aircraft and healthy orders helped its parent company, EADS, significantly boost its profits and sales last year.
EADS says it is confident about the future of the A380 superjumbo
The aerospace firm said a strong performance from Airbus, which it majority owns, helped boost total sales by 5% to 31.8bn euros ($42.4bn;£22bn).
Total profits before tax, interest, goodwill amortization and exceptional items climbed 58% to 2.4bn euros.
Airbus recently unveiled its new A380 superjumbo, to enter service in 2006.
EADS said Airbus had outperformed its main rival, US manufacturer Boeing, in 2004 in terms of aircraft deliveries and orders.
Airbus delivered 320 planes - up from 305 the year before - and secured 370 orders.
Pre-tax pre-exceptional profits at Airbus rose 42% to 1.9bn euros as it grabbed a 57% share of the commercial aircraft market by volume.
Prospects for 2005 look good, the company said, with deliveries set to rise further to between 350-360.
Orders stood at 1,500 at the end of 2004, up from 1,454 a year before.
A380 on the way
EADS is staking much of its future growth on the success of the A380 superjumbo, unveiled in Toulouse earlier this year.
With room for 555 passengers, the A380 will become the world's largest civil aircraft when it starts flying in 2006.
Airbus needs to sell about 250 aircraft to break even on the project, which has so far cost more than 12bn euros.
It has so far secured 154 orders and received commitments on a further 139 jets.
EADS' space and defence businesses also showed strong growth, the latter producing a 33% rise in pre-tax, pre-exceptional profits.
EADS is raising its pre-tax , pre-exceptional profit forecast for 2005 to 2.6bn euros while predicting sales of about 33bn euros.
EADS joint chief executives - Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich - said the company's financial future was strong.
"The results demonstrate the validity of the strategy we developed at the foundation of EADS in 2000," they said.
However, they stressed that EADS must focus on growing its business outside of Europe.
"Strengthening its competitive position and managing the US dollar weakness are key challenges the company must overcome to sustain its industrial leadership in commercial aircraft and helicopters."
The duo are both stepping down later this year and are set to be replaced by Noel Forgeard, Airbus' current chief executive and Thomas Enders, who heads EADS' armaments division Defence & Security Systems.
The firm's leadership has been the source of a long-running dispute between its French and German shareholders, which include the French government and carmaker Daimler-Chrysler.