Mark your calendars for future reference, Boeing (NYSE:BA) shareholders. Yesterday, July 16, 2009, just might have been the day that Boeing turned the corner.

In less than 24 hours, the aerospace giant appears to have inked some $2 billion worth of sales contracts, including:

  • A deal to build four communications satellites for Intelsat, at roughly $200 million apiece -- with additional follow-on revenues from servicing the birds
  • And an order for "up to 21" new Boeing 737-800 airliners, placed by tiny Copa Airlines (NYSE:CPA).

If you're not familiar with the names, Intelsat is a major player in the global video-, data-, and voice-over-satellite game, providing essential services to such brand-name companies as AT&T (NYSE T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). Building its satellites -- each as large as a school bus, and costing more than $200 million -- will take Boeing three years of painstaking labor. (Not that Boeing's complaining. It's been nearly two years since Boeing last landed a satellite deal of comparable size.)

Copa operates on a lower (if you'll pardon the pun) plane than the space giant, but it's rapidly gaining altitude. Its fleet of 55 Boeing and Embraer (NYSE:ERJ) aircraft service some two dozen nations in South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Look, boss! De plane!
Come to think of it, Boeing's latest news might actually be more important to potential Copa investors than to Boeing. Including 13 of the sales just announced, Copa has now placed firm orders for 27 Boeings, and has optioned eight more. This works out to anywhere from a half to two-thirds expansion of the airline's fleet over the next eight years -- a sizeable investment that tells us Copa has big plans for the future.

I have to tell you folks, the more I look at it, the more I think Copa's stock might see big things, too. The company carries a sizeable slug of debt (it is an airline, after all), but it has ample amounts of cash squirreled away in the bank. And unlike so many rivals to the north -- yeah, I'm talking to you, Delta (NYSE:DAL)! -- Copa is profitable. The last 12 months have seen this south-o'-the-border powerhouse churn out $184 million in profits, giving it a P/E of less than 10.

Foolish takeaway
Boeing had a banner day Thursday, but there's still plenty of time to blow it. If, perish the thought, Boeing disappoints investors again when it reports earnings next week, take a look at its new favorit-est customer.

You just might like what you see.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. Embraer Brazilian Aviation is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Sprint Nextel is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.