US approves Boeing inspection, rework plan to resume 787 deliveries

The FAA approved Boeing’s proposal requiring specific inspections to verify the aircraft’s condition meets requirements and that all work has been completed, a move that should allow Boeing (B.A) to resume deliveries in August after it stopped them in May 2021, the sources said.

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

The FAA sent questions about the approval to Boeing. “We do not comment on pending certifications,” the agency said.

Boeing did not confirm the approval Friday, but said it “will continue to work openly with the FAA and our customers to resume 787 deliveries.”[ads1];

Boeing has had production problems with the 787 for more than two years. In September 2020, the FAA said it was “investigating manufacturing defects” in some 787 jets.

In the wake of two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, the FAA promised to scrutinize Boeing more closely and delegate less responsibility to Boeing for aircraft certification.

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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 manufacturing issues for in-service aircraft and identified a new issue in July 2021.

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Brian West said this week on an investor call that it had 120 of the 787s in inventory and was “making progress in completing the necessary rework to prepare them for delivery.” Boeing “is manufacturing at very low prices, and we will continue to do so until deliveries resume, gradually returning to 5 aircraft per month over time.”

The aircraft manufacturer had only resumed deliveries in March 2021 after a five-month break before stopping them again. Friday’s approval came after lengthy discussions with the FAA.

The regulator had said it wanted Boeing to ensure that it “has a robust plan for the rework that it must perform on a large volume of new 787s in storage” and that “Boeing’s delivery processes are stable.”

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

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

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A plane built for American Airlines (EEL) is likely to be the first 787 delivered by Boeing since May 2021, sources said. It could come as early as next month. American Airlines said last week on an earnings call that it expects to receive nine 787s this year, including two in early August.

Boeing disclosed in January a $3.5 billion charge due to 787 delivery delays and customer concessions, and another $1 billion in abnormal production costs stemming from manufacturing defects and related repairs and inspections.

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