By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday approved Boeing’s inspection and modification plan to resume deliveries of 787 Dreamliners, two people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The FAA has approved Boeing’s proposal that requires specific inspections to verify that the aircraft’s condition meets requirements and that all work has been completed, a move that should allow Boeing to resume deliveries in August after the discontinued in May 2021, the sources said.
On July 17, Boeing told reporters it was “very close” to restarting 787 deliveries.
The FAA referred questions about the approval to Boeing. “We do not comment on pending certifications,” the agency said.
Boeing did not confirm the approval on Friday but said it “will continue to work transparently with the FAA and our customers to resume 787 deliveries.”
Boeing has faced production issues with the 787 for more than two years. In September 2020, the FAA said it was “investigating manufacturing defects” in some 787 airliners.
Following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, the FAA pledged to take a closer look at Boeing and delegate less responsibility to Boeing for aircraft certification.
Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787 after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method. The FAA had previously issued two airworthiness directives to address production issues with aircraft in service and identified a new issue in July 2021.
Boeing Chief Financial Officer Brian West said on an investor call this week that it had 120 of the 787s in inventory and was “making progress in completing the necessary redesigns 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 aircraft manufacturer only resumed deliveries in March 2021 after a five-month hiatus before stopping them again. Friday’s approval came after lengthy discussions with the FAA.
The regulator had said it wanted Boeing to ensure it “has a solid plan for the rework it needs to perform on a large volume 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 certificates of airworthiness until it is satisfied that “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787s that meet the design standards of the AAF”.
Steve Dickson, then the agency’s administrator, told Reuters in February that the FAA needed Boeing “a systemic solution to its production processes.”
A plane built for American Airlines will likely be the first 787 aircraft delivered by Boeing since May 2021, sources said. It could happen as early as next month. American Airlines said on an earnings call last week that it expects to receive nine 787s this year, including two in early August.
Boeing disclosed in January a $3.5 billion charge from 787 delivery delays and customer concessions, as well as another billion dollars in abnormal production costs stemming from production defects and repairs and inspections. related.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler; Editing by William Mallard)