The Boeing Co., whose rotorcraft division is one of the Philadelphia region's top two defense contractors, today reported a 27 percent rise in first-quarter earnings to $877 million, or $1.13 a share, over the same period last year.

Revenue rose 8 percent, from $14.26 billion to $15.37 billion.

The Chicago-based company said its order backlog has risen 23 percent to $262 billion, including both the civilian airliners and new military orders.

The company said it now has 544 firm orders from 44 customers for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the next-generation airliner scheduled to first fly in August and to enter service in May 2008.

Management reaffirmed previously issued guidance that revenue would be $64.5 billion to $65 billion in 2007, and $71 billion to $72 billion in 2008, yielding expected earnings per share of $4.55 to $4.75 in 2007 and $5.55 to $5.75 in 2008.

Revenue for its military Precision Engagement & Mobility unit, which includes the Philadelphia-based rotorcraft division, was forecast to be $13.5 billion in 2007 and to remain steady at that level next year.

Boeing's Ridley Township plant, near Philadelphia, assembles fuselages for the V-22 Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter, then rotates its engines to fly like an airplane. Wings and engines are added in Amarillo, Texas, by the Textron Inc. Bell Helicopter unit. The Ridley plant also builds the heavy-lift tandem-rotor helicopters Navy Sea Knight and Army Chinook.

Boeing reported that it spent $360 million to repurchase four million of its shares and that $2 billion remained to be spent under the previously announced repurchase initiative.

Contact staff writer Henry J. Holcomb at 215-854-2614 or hholcomb@phillynews.com.