Barring an unlikely flood of orders in December, it will drop to second place in orders when it announces its figures for the year on January 17.
 

Airbus, however, will retain its lead over Boeing for a fourth straight year in aircraft deliveries, the category that determines the world's No 1 aircraft maker. 

 

Work force

 

Boeing said it delivered 398 commercial aircraft in 2006, while Airbus is expected to have delivered a record 425.

 

Scott Carson, chief executive officer of Boeing's Seattle-based commercial jet-building division, said the company has built a well-balanced backlog of orders over the last two years, after having struggled previously.

 

Carson, who took over the job after Alan Mulally left to become chief executive at Ford Motor, was credited with reinvigorating the company's sales force as its commercial aircraft sales chief from December 2004 until last September.

 

Separately, Boeing reported reducing its work force by 2,356 jobs to 154,031 last year, with the majority of the cuts in California.

 

But it has now added jobs for 31 consecutive months in Washington state, where it had 68,170 employees as of December 31, reflecting the need to keep up with strong demand for commercial aircraft.