Boeing Co posted a 17 percent increase in quarterly profit, topping expectations, on growth in defense programs, but the global recession pressured operations, and the company did not say when its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner would fly.

The world's No. 2 planemaker said on Wednesday is still assessing the schedule for its 787 test flight and for deliveries one month after stunning the aerospace community with yet another delay.

Boeing will issue a new schedule in the third quarter for its cutting-edge carbon-composite aircraft along with an updated earnings forecast.

Think of it as a silver lining surrounded by very dark clouds, said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at the Teal Group.

The 787 news might be very bad indeed. There's a lot of uncertainty about 787. The commercial environment is grim. And the military environment is highly uncertain.

Second-quarter net profit rose to $998 million, or $1.41 per share, from $852 million, or $1.16, a year earlier. Analysts expected a profit of $1.21 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, rose 16 cents, or 0.4 percent to $43.18 at midday on the New York Stock Exchange.


Chicago-based Boeing and rival Airbus have been hit hard as carriers and cargo operators grapple with the global recession and credit crisis. Meanwhile, Boeing's defense unit struggles with sweeping cuts announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Pentagon's fiscal 2010 budget request earlier this year.

In June, Boeing said it would postpone the first test flight of its 787 Dreamliner, citing a structural problem. The aircraft, already two years behind its original schedule, was set to fly in the second quarter of 2009.

We all wish it didn't happen. We all wish that we didn't sound so confident at such a late stage. Other than this, the development of this plane was on track and feeling good about it as subsequent testing has borne out. Chief Executive Jim McNerney said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.

I, personally, think not providing an update is a good thing, said Alex Hamilton, senior managing director at Jesup & Lamont Securities.

It's a good thing from a PR perspective -- setting no bars, he said. So now there's no expectations. We don't know.

Boeing data show 850 orders for the 787.


Its 2009 earnings forecast was unchanged between $4.70 and $5 per share.

Total revenue increased 1 percent to $17.15 billion. Revenue from its commercial airplane division decreased 2 percent to $8.4 billion on lower deliveries.

Revenue from the integrated defense systems unit rose 9 percent to $8.7 billion. Revenue from Boeing Capital increased 7 percent to $167 million.

The commercial unit booked 57 gross orders during the quarter, while 52 others were removed from its order book.

Boeing said its backlog was $328 billion, down 3 percent from a year ago.

While market and development program execution challenges remain with us, we are doing what's necessary to emerge from the current economic environment as a stronger company, McNerney said in a statement.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)