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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 22:03 GMT
Boeing unveils record order book
Computer generated image of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner
Boeing's figures smash its previous record of 877 orders in 1987
Boeing looks set to overtake European rival Airbus in the commercial planes market following a surge in orders.

The US group said it had taken a record 1,002 plane orders in 2005 amid strong demand in the Middle East and Asia.

"Clearly 2005 was an incredible year for our customers and for Boeing," Alan Mulally head of Boeing's commercial aircraft unit said.

Airbus has yet to reveal its 2005 order figures, but experts predict it will book around 800 orders for the year.

Two years ago, Airbus overtook Boeing to become the world's best-selling aircraft maker.

An Airbus spokeswoman said the firm, which is 80% owned by the pan-European aerospace giant EADS and 20% owned by Britain's BAE Systems, would reveal its annual order totals on 17 January.

Budget boost

Both Airbus and Boeing have been boosted by a surge in demand from the no-frills market across the globe from Brazil to India.

While Airbus's "workhorse" single aisle A320 jet is expected to nudge ahead of Boeing's 569 orders for its 737 aircraft, Boeing is expected to have won out on the new offerings front.

Both aerospace groups unveiled new fuel-efficient, mid-sized jets capable of long haul flights last year - a move that boosted orders as airlines rethought their strategy and modernised their fleets in the face of spiralling fuel costs.

But Boeing's Dreamliner - which racked up 235 orders in 2005 - is expected to have stolen the march on Airbus's A350 which had just 50 firm orders by October.

Experts suggested the discrepancy was partly down to Airbus lagging behind Boeing in unveiling the new craft.

Despite the good news, shares in Boeing fell 1.5% to $70.09 on the US market as analysts warned that the US and European markets could stumble in 2006.

Bank of America downgraded its stock, warning that "orders could halve in 2006 as Europe and the US remain slow to recover".

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