Pop Quiz: How Many Dreamliners Does Boeing Have To Deliver To Turn a Profit?

If you can remember back that far, Boeing's (BA) 787 Dreamliner started as a much-celebrated advance, a wide-body, fuel-efficient jet. Unfortunately, the program has been awfully slow going.

The Dreamliner was supposed to start flying in 2007, but delays have become the norm and have created opportunity for airlines to cancel their orders. Most recently, Qantas Airways cancelled an order for 35 of the planes.

Boeing seems to be moving forward. The first model was delivered to All Nippon Airways and stayed flying last fall. This summer, United (UAL) threw a web party when Boeing finally rolled the first Dreamliner out of the paint hangar.

But customers originally placed more than 1,000 orders and have cancelled 217 of those. Boeing's total orders now: 824. And every delay and cancelled order means it takes longer for Boeing to turn a profit. According to the Wall Street Journal, Boeing needs to ship 1,100 of the planes in order to break even.

Sheesh, this could take a while.

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