WASHINGTON: After more than a year, aviation giant Boeing will be allowed to resume deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft “in the coming days,” after the company makes changes to its manufacturing process, US air safety regulators announced Monday.
Deliveries of the best-selling wide-body aircraft have been halted since the spring of 2021, so the news will be welcomed by US airlines and travelers who have experienced massive delays and flight cancellations in recent weeks, partly due to a shortage of planes.
“Boeing has made the necessary changes to ensure that the 787 Dreamliner meets all certification standards,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The plane’s hard work lasted until late summer 2020, when the company discovered manufacturing shortfalls with some of the jets. Boeing later identified additional problems, including with the horizontal stabilizer.
The difficulties limited deliveries between November 2020 and March 2021. Boeing suspended deliveries in the spring of 2021 after more problems emerged. Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen met with safety inspectors in South Carolina last week to confirm they were satisfied with the repairs the company made to ensure they comply with the standards and to identify potential risks once defects are discovered on an aircraft. “The FAA will inspect each aircraft before an airworthiness certificate is issued and approved for delivery,” the statement said. “We expect deliveries to resume in the coming days.”
Cleared for takeoff
A company spokesman told AFP that Boeing would “continue to work transparently with the FAA and our customers to continue deliveries of the 787,” but did not confirm the company had received final FAA approval. During a July 27 earnings conference call, Chief Executive Dave Calhoun described the company as “on the verge” of getting approval, though he declined to give an exact target date. At the end of June, Boeing had 120 Dreamliner planes in stock and was producing the jets “at very low prices,” the company said in a filing.
The company’s share price rose on the news, closing 0.5 percent higher. The inability to deliver the Dreamliner has dragged down Boeing’s profit, which plunged 67 percent in the second quarter. And manufacturing changes have caused billions of additional costs for companies.
The company has delivered more than 1,000 aircraft since it was first introduced in 2004. Increased regulatory scrutiny of the 787 and other Boeing aircraft comes after a pair of crashes in 2018 and 2019 on the 737 MAX, which saw the aircraft grounded globally for more than a year.
But the MAX has returned to service, allowing Boeing to ramp up aircraft production, amass meaningful revenue and announce a significant new order at the Farnborough Airshow earlier this month. Even so, Boeing’s order backlog in the pipeline lags behind rival Airbus. – AFP