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Aerospace and defense major The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) completed the production of its first 787-9 Dreamliner. This new variant exceeds the 787-8 by 20 feet in length and has a superior flying range of 300 nautical miles (555 km). Most importantly, 787-9 will be able to carry 40 more passengers than the 787-8.

Boeing officials are planning to take this aeroplane for a test flight later this summer. First delivery is scheduled to take place in mid 2014 to the launch customer Air New Zealand. To date Boeing has received 366 airplane orders for this variant. The average cost of a 787-9 dreamliner is $249.5 million at list prices.

The newest incarnation features the advanced design of the 787-8 model with 50% composite materials being used to manufacture the primary structure of this aeroplane. This makes the plane lighter and stronger than conventional aluminum that goes into the making of most aircraft. In addition, this aeroplane features advanced engines from General Electric Company (GE - Analyst Report) and  Rolls-Royce, which make them 20% more fuel efficient than similar-sized aircraft.

Boeing has officially launched another model of the 787 family, 787-10, at the Paris Air Show held in Jun 2013. The company has already started to receive positive response from commercial jetliners and is scheduled to make first delivery in 2018.

Boeing has so far been able to maintain its schedule for the 787-9 Dreamliner. This is creditable given the glitches and technical problems that had beset the 787-8, inordinately delaying its first delivery. Moreover, the dramatic grounding of all 787-8 airplanes due to battery related issues earlier in the year had sparked off a series of setbacks for Boeing’s commercial airplane division.

Will Boeing be able to overcome the technical issues for 787-9? We are hopeful that these issues are not going to be repeated, but none the less raise our concern.

In addition to expanding its presence in the commercial airplane market, Boeing is also an important operator in the defense space. Boeing presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other well-placed defense operators having a favorable Zacks Rank are Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT - Analyst Report) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC - Analyst Report), both with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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