Boeing delivered the first 787 Dreamliner long-range aircraft on March 26, after a five-month pause prompted by the discovery of some structural flaws in several jets. A 787-9 jet was delivered to United Airlines and a second is expected to be delivered there soon.
In October 2020, Boeing stopped deliveries of 787s following the report that the Federal Aviation Administration had initiated a historical review of quality-control issues at the North Charleston, S.C., assembly operation. At that time, Boeing grounded eight aircraft which had been recently completed and undertook inspections of more 787s for signs of structural defects.
Bloomberg News reported that during Boeing's inspection review it discovered another issue, as one supplier had changed the manufacturing process for flight-deck windows, which then required additional testing by the OEM.
In January, FAA barred Boeing from conducting pre-delivery inspections and clearances of four 787s, as part of a stricter regulatory regime for the program. FAA inspectors, not Boeing employees, would perform the inspections for four aircraft whose deliveries had been held back by the delays, and the agency also indicated it could extend its restriction to more 787s.
The FAA cleared Boeing to make the delivery to United Airlines, apparently indicating Boeing’s 787 assembly processes are in line with relevant safety standards. Since October, Boeing has been storing completed aircraft, and it’s not yet clear that other 787 are also cleared for delivery to their buyers.
Over 80 undelivered Dreamliners have been waiting at Boeing sites and storage lots until they are cleared for presentation to carriers or air-leasing companies. These are in addition to an estimated 400 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, completed during the 18-month grounding of that program, and awaiting delivery to customers. Boeing resumed 737 MAX deliveries in December 2020.