The Boeing Co. retained the lead last month in the informal but closely watched orders and deliveries race with its European rival Airbus.
Having the lead in both orders and deliveries is an unfamiliar position for Boeing, which in recent years has lagged the European planemaker.
Boeing delivered 49 planes last month, bringing the year’s total to 237. Airbus reported deliveries of 45 jets in May, putting its total for the first five months at 228.
The Boeing lead is because of production rate increases on nearly all of its assembly lines. The company is increasing the production pace to keep up with orders.
On the order front, Airbus reported 132 net orders for the year through May, while Boeing is reporting 420 net orders.
Among those orders are five orders last week from Pakistan International Airways and one from an unidentified customer.
Boeing is leading in the orders race this year by a large margin thanks to its new 737 Max, an upgraded version of its best-selling 737. The Max will enter airline service in 2017.
Airbus last year rolled up a big lead over Boeing in orders because of rush to order its new A320neo, an upgraded version of its A320.
Most of the orders for the A320neo appeared in the first months after the plane was announced.
Boeing lagged Airbus by eight months in offering an upgraded single-aisle aircraft.
Airbus said it took in orders for 37 A320s, pushing the single-aisle jet family’s order total to 8,400 over its lifetime.
Airbus has 132 net orders across its product lines for the first five months of 2012.
On Thursday, Boeing announced an order for five 777s from Pakistan International Airlines and one 777 from an unnamed customer.
However, the Chicago-based company also logged a cancellation for four 777s, bringing Boeing’s net order total to 420.
Boeing’s substantial order lead over Airbus is largely because of the popularity of the company’s re-engined 737 Max, which the company announced in August.
Airbus beat Boeing in orders in 2011, having launched the re-engined A320 in late 2010.
In May, Boeing delivered eight 777s, three of the new 747-8s, two 767s and 36 of the Renton-built 737s.john.gillie @thenewstribune.com 253.597-8663