On hold again two months after resumption
Aerospace giant Boeing is once again suspending deliveries of its 787 dual-aisle planes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Sources familiar with the matter attest that federal aviation safety regulators have requested more information on the production quality issues already identified.
The problem with skin flatness tolerances was communicated in September last year and has already led to a five-month suspension of deliveries. It was also probably one of the reasons Boeing let the record 1000th Dreamliner delivery go by without much celebration.
However, it looks like this halt in deliveries is likely to end much sooner. American Airlines was due to receive a new 787 this week. The transfer has been postponed until next week, indicating that Boeing is optimistic that the issue will be resolved within that time frame.
Simple Flying has contacted Boeing for comment on the matter but had not yet received a response at the time of publication. However, a company spokesperson told WSJ that they were,
“… Work in a timely and transparent manner to provide regulators with more information on the undelivered 787s.”
A difficult year on many fronts
The Dreamliner program has been marred by production issues over the past year. First, eight planes already in service with, among others, United Airlines, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines were grounded due to quality defects of the rear fuselage. All of the planes originated from the Charleston, South Carolina plant.
Engineers then discovered that some components of the 787 horizontal tails had been “clamped together with greater than specified force” at a manufacturing facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. This potentially leads to component gaps larger than the regulated thousandth of an inch.
Last month, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive requiring inspection of all 787s registered in the United States due to a risk of disengaging the pressure relief panels.
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The FAA itself has signed some planes
Correcting structural flatness faults in at least 88 already manufactured aircraft could cost Boeing hundreds of millions, Reuters reported earlier this year. Add to that the $ 6.6 million the FAA fined the manufacturer as part of a quality breach settlement dating back years. The 787 has been a very expensive affair for the past 12 months, almost rivaling its narrow-body teammate, the 737 MAX.
In March, the FAA decided to carry out routine pre-delivery safety checks on its own on four of the undelivered 787s. At the time, an agency spokesperson told the WSJ that it could extend the measure to other Dreamliners, if necessary. Under normal circumstances, the FAA authorizes Boeing to perform final approvals on its behalf.