NEW YORK – Aerospace giant Boeing said Tuesday it delivered a total of 380 commercial airplanes in 2019, or less than half the number it delivered the previous year, due to the two accidents involving the troubled 737 MAX 8, which was grounded and whose production has been halted.
Boeing said in a statement that it posted the lowest delivery number in about 14 years, with the 737 accounting for just one-third of deliveries, or 127 units.
European rival Airbus, for its part, delivered a record 863 units in 2019.
Boeing had more commercial plane order cancellations in 2019 than orders, losing orders for 87 commercial airplanes, with a company spokesman telling business network CNBC that this “definitely has not happened in the last 30 years.”
Airbus, meanwhile, received 768 firm orders for commercial aircraft and has an order backlog of 7,482 commercial airplanes.
Boeing said it finished 2019 with a commercial plane backlog of 5,406 units.
In December, Boeing did not receive any orders for the 737 MAX, whose production has been halted and the planes in airline fleets remain grounded in the wake of crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Boeing is working to fix the technical problems affecting the 737 MAX in the hopes that regulators will re-certify the planes to fly.
The 737 MAX was grounded following a March 10, 2019, crash that killed 157 people in Ethiopia. On Oct. 29, 2018, an Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX crashed in the Java Sea, killing 181 passengers and eight crew members.
Accident investigators in Indonesia blamed design flaws and flight certification errors for the crash of the Lion Air 737 MAX 8.
The design flaws were aggravated by insufficient pilot training in the use of the MCAS flight control system and maintenance problems on the part of Lion Air, among other factors, the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee said in a report.
The initial results of the investigation into the crash of the 737 MAX 8 in Ethiopia found that the crew followed all the established procedures but was unable to disable the automated stall-prevention system, which caused the plane to lose altitude.
The crew apparently turned on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is designed to prevent the plane from stalling, once again and tried to cut off the power to the trim motor.
The MCAS, however, kicked in and continued driving down the aircraft’s nose. The same thing happened to the Lion Air crew.
Orders for the 737 MAX 8 fell to 183 in 2019, largely due to the bankruptcy of Indian carrier Jet Airways.
Boeing hoped that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would recertify the 737 MAX 8 by the end of 2019, but that did not happen.
The aerospace company initially slowed production of the 737 MAX, but management decided to halt production in January, a move that has affected suppliers.
Spirit AeroSystems, the largest supplier for the 737 MAX program, said this week that it was laying off 2,800 workers after suspending production for Boeing effective Jan. 1.
In December, Southwest Airlines received compensation from Boeing for the losses caused by the grounding of the carrier’s 34 737 MAX planes, which cannot fly again until they are cleared by the FAA.
On Monday, Dave Calhoun took over as Boeing’s new CEO, replacing Dennis Muilenburg, who was fired by the company’s board of directors in December.
“We’ll get it done, and we’ll get it done right,” Calhoun said in an email sent to Boeing employees on Monday regarding the 737 MAX’s return to service.