One of my favorite recurring columns here at the Fool is Rex Moore's classic "Get Ready for a 25% Drop," which urges investors to steel themselves against the stock market's periodic stomach-churning declines, ride out the turbulence, and patiently await the rebound. It's a primer in how to "grin and bear" disappointing news, but it's apparently one that Boeing (NYSE:BA) investors don't need to read ...

... because when Boeing reported a 90% decline in plane orders this year (versus 2007's banner year), they didn't just grin. They leapt for joy.

On Thursday, Boeing released its tally for 2009 deliveries, new orders, and cancellations. On deliveries, Boeing churned out 481 new commercial aircraft last year, ceding first place in a two-man race to rival Airbus (which delivered 485, according to independent estimates). New orders totaled 263 (primarily Boeing 737s), but cancellations ate well into the order book. Boeing allowed 121 existing orders to slip through its fingers last year, leaving the firm with a net of 142 new orders placed last year. By way of comparison, in 2007, the company had netted 1,413 new orders as buyers like Continental (NYSE:CAL) swarmed the sales aisles for a chance to own the new 787 Dreamliner and the 737 soared to 846 net orders.

Down 90%? Hurray!
Boeing investors cheered the news, sending the stock up 4% for the day. But why? Could a 90% decline in orders actually be good news for the company? Should investors in parts suppliers like Honeywell (NYSE:HON), United Tech (NYSE:UTX), and Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE:SPR) be tossing ticker tape as well?

Mayhaps, but not because of the drop, but in spite of it. You see, alongside the bad news of a staggering decline in new plane orders, we received positive comments from Boeing Marketing VP Randy Tinseth, who predicted that "by 2012, the airline industry will have recovered to the point where there will be an increased demand for new planes." So two years of sales declines ... bad. But only two more years till sales begin to zoom again ... good! Yeah, I guess that makes sense.

Even better, we learned yesterday that one of Boeing's bigger sales opportunities -- one which seemed permanently grounded as recently as last month -- now appears to be back on life support. According to Reuters, Ryanair (NASDAQ:RYAAY) CEO Michael O'Leary is suggesting that if Boeing can sweeten the deal on a planned 200-plane order, he might be willing to help Boeing plump up its order book. Personally, I'm leery of any deal that Ryanair thinks is a good deal for it, but ...

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above, but Spirit AeroSystems Holdings is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.