US approves Boeing inspection and overhaul plan to resume 787 deliveries

US approves Boeing inspection and overhaul plan to resume 787 deliveries

The FAA approved Boeing’s proposal mandating specific inspections to verify that the aircraft’s condition meets requirements and that all work is complete, a step that should allow for this Boeing (B.A) to resume deliveries in August after halting them in May 2021, the sources said.

On July 17, Boeing told reporters it was “very close” to resuming 787 deliveries.

The FAA referred questions about certification to Boeing. “We do not comment on ongoing certifications,” the agency said.

Boeing did not confirm the approval Friday, but said it “will continue to transparently work with the FAA and our customers to resume 787 deliveries.”

Boeing has struggled with production problems on the 787 for more than two years. In September 2020, the FAA said it was investigating “manufacturing defects” on about 787 jetliners.

After two deadly 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, the FAA vowed to take a closer look at Boeing and delegate less responsibility for aircraft certification to Boeing.

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Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787 after the FAA raised concerns about the proposed inspection method. The FAA had previously issued two airworthiness directives to address production issues for in-service aircraft and identified a new issue in July 2021.

Brian West, Boeing’s chief financial officer, said at an investor call this week that it has 120 of the 787 in stock and is “making progress on completing the necessary rework to prepare them for delivery.” Boeing “is producing at very low rates and we will continue to do so until deliveries resume, gradually returning to 5 aircraft per month over time.”

The planemaker only resumed deliveries in March 2021 after a five-month hiatus before halting them again. Friday’s approval came after lengthy discussions with the FAA.

The regulator had said it wanted to ensure Boeing “has a robust plan for the follow-up work it needs to do on a large batch of new 787s in storage” and that “Boeing’s delivery processes are stable.”

The FAA said in February it would retain the authority to issue airworthiness certificates until it is certain that “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes are consistently producing 787s that meet FAA design standards.”

The agency’s administrator at the time, Steve Dickson, told Reuters in February that the FAA needed “a systemic solution to their production processes” from Boeing.

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An airplane built for American Airlines (EEL) will likely be the first 787 aircraft Boeing has delivered since May 2021, sources said. That could come as soon as next month. American Airlines said at an earnings call last week that it expects to receive nine 787s this year, including two in early August.

Boeing announced in January a $3.5 billion fee due to 787 delivery delays and customer concessions, and another $1 billion in abnormal production costs attributable to production defects and related repairs and inspections.

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