New orders for US manufactured durable goods surged for the second straight month in May, driven by aircraft orders, government data released Tuesday showed. Durable goods orders rose 3.6 percent in May to $231.0 billion, the Commerce Department said. It was the third monthly rise in the past four months. The department upwardly revised the April increase to 3.6 percent. The May gain was stronger than expected, and mainly due to transportation equipment orders, which tend to be volatile month-on-month. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 0.7 percent. Transportation orders jumped 10.2 percent, led by a 51 percent leap in commercial aircraft and parts orders. Excluding defense, orders rose 3.5 percent. Communications equipment orders also rose sharply, by 12.6 percent, while computers and electronic products gained 2.7 percent. Compared with a year ago, durable goods orders were 2.1 percent higher. A closely watched detail in the report -- non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft -- rose 1.1 percent. \"This component is a key gauge of future business investment,\" said Jennifer Lee of BMO Capital Markets. \"This points to a pickup in (capital expenditures) in coming months.\"