By Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)

Boeing wonâ¿¿t recoup the high costs of the much-delayed 787 Dreamliner program until aircraft No. 1,100 is delivered, but should start making money on a per-plane basis as early as 2015.

Those numbers were shared Wednesday during the third-quarter conference call. It's the first time Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has given its own estimate of when the 787 program will become profitable.

In the call, Boeing Chief Financial Officer James Bell said the company didnâ¿¿t start its own computations until after Boeing delivered its first 787, to All Nippon Airways, on Sept. 27.

Boeingâ¿¿s conclusion about when it will recoup 787 costs is roughly in line with estimates from analysts over many months. The company has spent at least $30 billion on the aircraft, according to estimates from analysts and The Seattle Times.

This means that the 787 program wonâ¿¿t cover its costs for many years, because Boeing CEO Jim Mcnerney said the current backlog, now down to 820 planes, wonâ¿¿t be worked off until 2019.

The overhang is expected to erode Boeing Commercial Airplanes division's operating margins for 2012 to about 9.5 percent, down from the relatively high 11.4 percent BCA generated in the third quarter, Bell said.

Despite the long road to 787 program profit, the move to per-aircraft 787 profit should now start to accelerate, Bell said. This is largely because the 787 production system is so far behind other programs.

⿿You⿿ll see a steeper drop over the first 100 airplanes than you would traditionally see, then it will stabilize in the learning curve,⿝ Bell said.

McNerney said that he expects the production line to be working as designed, without appreciable out-of-sequence work, by the first 50 or 60 aircraft. Now the Everett plant is finishing the 44th Dreamliner, for Ethiopian Airlines.

He added Boeing is starting to gradually increase the 787â¿¿s production rate, after three years of struggling with out-of-sequence work that has filled every available corner of Everettâ¿¿s Paine Field with aircraft yet to be delivered.

⿿We are seeing progress this week from two a month to 2.5 a month, moving toward sustained rate breaks in the future,⿝ McNerney said.

Production will slowly rise to 10 a month by mid-2013, including Dreamliners from Boeing⿿s new plant in North Charleston, S.C., McNerney said, in what he called ⿿a disciplined approach, a series of rate increases.⿝

⿿Now it⿿s all about burning down the work, while ensuring quality our customers expect at the time of delivery,⿝ he added.

Bell said Boeing wonâ¿¿t start delivering generating more revenue from individual aircraft than the cost of production until about two years after reaching the 10-per-month rate.

⿿A lot of good things happen when you get there,⿝ he said.

In response to a question about when Boeing will start winning new orders for the 787 â¿¿ now down to 820 after steady attrition from a high of over 900 â¿¿ McNerney said that wonâ¿¿t happen until some of the backlog is worked off.

Boeing expects a market for about 5,000 aircraft in the 787 size, which it will have to share with the Airbus A350XWB.

STEVE WILHELM covers manufacturing, aerospace and trade for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Phone: 206-876-5427 | Email: | Twitter: stevewilhelm108 Click here to sign up for the PSBJ Daily Update.

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