Boeing has followed Airbus in reporting a strong 2011 performance with profits up by 21% to $4 billion.

Net income for last quarter of the year rose by 20% to $1.4 billion.

Commercial aircraft revenue in the three months was up by 31% to $10.7 billion.

Total group revenue for 2011 was $68.7 billion, expected to rise to between $78 billion and $80 billion this year.

The company expects to deliver between 585 and 600 commercial aircraft in 2012, including 70 to 85 B787s and B747-8s, of which approximately half are 787s.

Commercial aircraft revenue for 2012 is expected to be between $47.5 billion and $49.5 billion.

Boeing and Airbus are both seeing orders pick up as demand for air travel slowly recovers from the 2008 global recession.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said: “Strong fourth-quarter operating performance, record revenue and backlog, and expanded earnings and cash flow capped a year of substantial progress for Boeing in 2011.

“We enter 2012 with renewed momentum, and proven business and product strategies. With a record backlog and intense focus on productivity, we are well positioned to deliver growth and increased competitiveness, even as we face constrained US defence spending and pension headwinds.”