Dreamliner Break-Even Pegged At 1100

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Boeing will lift the curtain a little today on the financial aspects of its 787 program, but that didn't stop pundits from predicting what it will take to make the world's most expensive civilian aircraft development program make money. Rather than make its own prediction, Bloomberg tallied up the crystal balling of 18 analysts, averaged them and came up with Boeing's making its first buck on Dreamliner No. 1101. The magic number was undoubtedly much lower than that when Boeing embarked on the 787 program but a series of problems compounded to create a three-year launch delay. The first Dreamliner was delivered to ANA last month and was due to enter service today. The company has about 800 firm orders for the mostly plastic jet and based on previous programs should therefore have no trouble hitting the black.

Boeing will speed up production to 10 787s a month this year, making it the speediest wide-body production line anywhere and making the 1,100 threshold achievable in a little less than 10 years. Boeing's last clean-sheet offering was the 777 and its break-even point was 250 aircraft. A total of 1,233 have been sold since the design was introduced in 1995. Meanwhile, Boeing says it's earning a profit on every Dreamliner because it averages the start-up costs over the life of the program rather than addressing them up front and posting a loss on the initial aircraft.