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Boeing 737s are flying out the door -- and not just 737s... Image Source: Boeing.

Last week was a big week for Boeing (NYSE:BA) -- and I'm not even talking about the earnings report.

On Wednesday, Boeing reported a comfortable earnings beat of $2.52 per share in "core" earnings, 18% better than it earned in last year's Q3. But perhaps the even better news for Boeing investors is that the company finally appears to have gotten its sales engine revving again -- so that it can keep those earnings beats coming.

The update
One day after reporting earnings, Boeing released its regularly scheduled Thursday update on the most recent entries to its airplane "order book." Specifically, the aerospace giant announced that it will be building 20 new 737 single-aisle jets for Gulf carrier Oman Air.

This purchase promises to more than double the number of Boeing airplanes comprising Oman Air's fleet. According to S&P Capital IQ, Oman Air's fleet already includes 15 of Boeing's best-selling narrowbody, alongside seven Airbus (NASDAQOTH:EADSY) airliners, three Embraer aircraft, and a pair of planes from French-Italian maker ATR. So if you add 20 new 737s into the mix, Oman Air will soon be three-quarters of the way toward becoming an all-Boeing carrier.

The "book"
Oman wasn't Boeing's only sales news item last week, but before we discuss the other news of the week, let's pause and recap where Boeing's order book stands today. As of mid-October, Boeing has now taken in gross orders for the following new plane deliveries:

  • 378 single-aisle 737s
  • 54 widebody 777s
  • 52 Dreamliner 787s
  • 48 Boeing 767s
  • Four 747s

That's 536 gross plane orders for Boeing. Subtract 75 cancellations (including six reported just last week), and Boeing's net order tally for the year runs to 461 planes.

In other news
Now for the other big news of the week: Norway. The same day Boeing announced earnings, and two days before updating its order book, Boeing confirmed that it has finalized a deal to sell Norwegian a total of 19 787-9 Dreamliners, plus options to buy 10 more.

Not even counting the value of the optioned aircraft, Boeing notes that Norwegian's firm orders are worth $5 billion to it at list price. Not even counting the number of aircraft optioned, the order promises to double the size of Norwegian's Dreamliner fleet. The airline currently has eight 787-8s in operation, and has orders in place to lease 11 more 787-9s. And as Boeing points out, this latest order is the "largest single order for 787-9s" that it has ever received from a European airline.

What's next?
For whatever reason, Boeing's Norwegian order seems not quite to have made it under the wire in time to be added to the company's official order book for last week. But it could well pop up in the next update, due out this Thursday. And then, roughly one week after that, we should get a glimpse at how Airbus is faring, when that airplane manufacturer reports its monthly update on plane orders received in October.

The upshot for investors: Despite the strong sales reports over the past few days, I won't say that Boeing's a "lock" to tie Airbus' strong performance so far this year. But all of a sudden, after a couple of months in which Boeing's sales machine had seemingly stalled, and orders were hard to come by -- it's at least starting to look like a horse race again. And Boeing shares, selling for almost equal to sales, are starting to look just a bit more interesting.

Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 280 out of more than 75,000 rated members.

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