Boeing 777

The ups and downs of Boeing's 787

December 15, 2009: 4:21 PM ET

Boeing's long-delayed 787 Dreamliner finally took flight on Tuesday to the ecstatic cheers of thousands watching from a wet runway at Paine Field in Everett, WA. The composite wings flexed, and the Rolls-Royce engines roared as the first entirely new commercial jet from the Boeing Co. since launching the 777 in 1995 headed out toward the Pacific for a four-hour spin.

(Click here to tour the inside of the Boeing 787)

There are thousands of hours more to go in flight tests and other system tests, before Boeing (BA/$55) can deliver the first of the fuel-efficient jets to All Nippon Airways. Boeing plans on putting the first of 840 jets ordered, worth some $140 billion, in customer hands by the end of 2010. The plane's first flight is clearly a huge step toward getting there. But with a program already more than two years behind schedule, customers, and Wall Street, will be keeping on a close watch on the next phase of testing to see if the planes are likely to be delivered on time.

Even as the plane was still on its maiden flight, Morgan Stanley analyst Heidi Wood cautioned her clients to, "sell the news." More

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