Boeing kick-started a contest for tens of billions of dollars of orders at the Farnborough Airshow on Monday, with a $4.7 billion deal for freight planes with delivery firm DHL.
Even before the first displays took to the skies over a sun-baked southern England, the U.S. planemaker said DHL had placed an order for 14 777 freighters, and purchase rights for seven additional freighters.
Boeing and European rival Airbus are expected to make several announcements on day one of the July 16-22 event, industry sources said.
There may be an intense battle for sales in the 100-150-seat market where Airbus and Boeing have forged new alliances.
Despite warnings from some analysts that the pace of orders could slow after an eight-year boom, there were signs of brisk activity as negotiators thronged London hotels on Sunday and some haggled over last-minute air show deals, observers said.
However, bankers said they would be watching closely to see how many of the hundreds of orders anticipated this week were new and how many involved adjusting earlier business or switching models, something not always easy to spot at first.