Federal regulators on Friday cleared the way for Boeing to resume deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, which were suspended more than a year ago over quality concerns.
Boeing had submitted a plan to the Federal Aviation Administration this spring to inspect and repair these issues, which the agency approved Friday as a key milestone on the road to delivery of the planes, according to a person familiar with the decision, who was not of the Agency authorized to share the news. The FAA will still inspect the jets before handing them over to Boeing customers.
The Dreamliner is a twin-aisle aircraft commonly used on long international flights and is an important part of the Boeing fleet. It appeals to airlines in part because it’s more fuel efficient than older widebody jets.
The delivery delay had taken a toll on both Boeing and its customers. In January, Boeing estimated it would cost about $3.5 billion to complete the repairs and compensate customers for the delay. Earlier this year, American Airlines announced that the suspension of deliveries has forced it to cut several international routes it had planned for this summer.
Quality concerns included finding and filling paper-thin gaps in the aircraft body, replacing certain titanium parts made from the wrong material, and other repairs. None have a direct impact on the safety of Dreamliners flying today, Boeing said.
Boeing has already begun inspecting and repairing its inventory of about 120 Dreamliners, but it wasn’t immediately clear how quickly the company would be able to get the plane back to customers. An executive at American said earlier this month that she expects to receive a portion of her Dreamliner order as early as August.
Boeing had already signaled earlier this week that it was about to resume deliveries. “We prepare aircraft together with our customers and have performed flight checks on the first aircraft,” said Brian West, Boeing’s chief financial officer, speaking to investor analysts and reporters.
An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the decision. In a brief statement, Boeing said it would “continue to work transparently” with the agency and its customers to resume deliveries.
Boeing said this week that it intends to resume producing five Dreamliners a month, down from the 14 it was assembling each month before the pandemic.