The flight of the 787

Former 3M boss James McNerney has a lot riding on today’s planned test flight of the Boeing 787. McNerney left the Maplewood-based company in 2005 to head Boeing, just in time to preside over the troubled airplane project. Some analysts bet against the plane ever flying.

It’s due to make its first flight today at 12 p.m. (Minnesota time). Boeing is providing a live Web stream. The feed also provides live communication from the cockpit to tower.

Update 1:33 p.m. – The takeoff captured via a Droid phone.

How big a deal is this in industry circles? Listen to the cameras clicking during a high-speed taxi test the other day:

This is Boeing’s attempt to compete with the Airbus A380, which I filmed flying around Oshkosh earlier this year (ignore the title; it has been to Chicago once before).

Northwest Airlines was going to be one of the first customers for the new Boeing jet. But Delta is reportedly considering dropping its business.