Even in a business known for flight delays, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has had an extraordinary trip to the runway. The 300-seat jetliner, which Boeing has been working on since 2004, was scheduled for its first test flight more than two years ago. But a host of problems--mostly due to Boeing's heavy reliance on suppliers, and on the plane's unique carbon-fiber composite construction--led to a series of delays, which have cost Boeing millions in penalties and led some airlines to cancel their orders.
But the Dreamliner completed its first test flight on Dec. 15, and there's reason to hope the troubled program will get back on track in 2010. The jet, which was designed to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessors, remains in high demand: Boeing has 840 orders on its books from 55 airlines. If all goes well, it plans to deliver its first plane late next year. That can only help Boeing stock, which traded above $100 before all the flight delays--but sat below $60 a share the week the 787 finally got off the ground.