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Boeing 787 Deliveries May Resume in Late 2022

April 21, 2022
Inventories of the twin-engine, wide-body aircraft have been rising since mid-2021, as Boeing addresses structural flaws. FAA has asserted its authority to restore the 787’s airworthiness certification.

The Boeing Co. expects to resume 787 Dreamliner deliveries later this year, according to a published report citing sources claiming airlines and parts suppliers have been advised of such a timeline. Previously, Boeing had been expected to restart deliveries this month. However, Boeing’s ability to resume the deliveries depends very much on the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, which directed airlines to pause operations on certain 787 models, and earlier this year asserted it would retain authority over the 787 airworthiness certification.

In February, FAA stated it will reserve the right determine the aircraft’s certification until it has confidence that "Boeing's quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787s that meet FAA design standards."

The latter point is relevant in light of the controversy that surrounded a Boeing whistleblower’s allegation that the company disregarded the concerns of its own safety inspectors, who had been authorized by FAA to review and approve inspections of the 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing halted deliveries of its twin-engine, wide-body 787 aircraft in mid-2021 in response to a variety of maintenance issues that had emerged over the preceding months. In September 2020, Boeing confirmed some faulty structural conditions on certain 787s, as well as defective fuselage skins – a problem first uncovered in 2019.

In addition, Boeing inspectors discovered problems in the structural soundness of some 787s’ forward pressure bulkheads; and subsequently the OEM confirmed that one of its sub-suppliers had delivered finished assemblies that included defective titanium components.

The rising level of the 787 inventory since last year is expensive for Boeing, which has not been able to collect payment on 787 orders or services. It’s also important to the program’s suppliers.

Airlines, too, have been forced to adjust to the unavailability of new aircraft and repair parts. Some 787 operators have canceled scheduled flights on intercontinental routes serviced by the wide-body jets.

Boeing has not commented on the prospect of earning FAA’s approval for its repair plans or the return of the aircraft’s airworthiness certification, or when it expects to resume 787 deliveries.

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