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Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliner set for maiden flight next week

I've written in this space many times about Boeing's troubled bet on its future, the ultra-high-tech 787 Dreamliner, which has struggled with many setbacks over the past year, pushing down the company's stock.

So it's only fair that I report when the Dreamliner is set for its maiden voyage: as early as Tuesday, Boeing said.

The company plans a four- to five-hour test flight from the Dreamliner's factory north of Seattle to Boeing Field, south of Seattle, about a 30-mile flight. (Lots of circling.)

The Dreamliner is key to Boeing's future, as it struggles head to head with France's Airbus. Each one will list for $166 million, and the company has plenty of orders. Which is why the multiple delays have hurt the company so much -- orders started getting pulled.

In June, Qantas canceled orders for 15 Dreamliners, and delayed orders for 15 more.

The plane's maiden flight was delayed in June of this year, in December 2008 and one month earlier, in November of last year.

The big jet's rollout was crippled by a machinists' strike, and then, some on-ground testing revealed a concentration of stresses around the wing's connection to the fuselage. It seemed the plane was cursed never to fly.

All along, Boeing stock has gone down. Over the past two years, the S&P 500 is down 25 percent, while Boeing's stock is down about 38 percent.

Boeing reported a $1.6 billion loss in the third quarter of this year and had to take a $2.5 billion loss because of the Dreamliner's delays.

Now, Boeing and Boeing shareholders are holding their breath for next Tuesday's test flight.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  December 11, 2009; 1:45 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Boeing, Dreamliner 787  
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