Federal regulators on Friday cleared the way for Boeing to restart deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, which was halted more than a year ago due to quality issues.
Boeing had submitted a plan to the Federal Aviation Administration this spring to inspect and repair those problems, which the agency approved Friday in a major milestone on the path to delivering the planes, according to a person familiar with the decision, who did not he was authorized by the agency to share the news. The FAA will continue to inspect the planes before they are delivered to Boeing customers.
The Dreamliner is a twin-aisle aircraft commonly used for long international flights and is a significant part of the Boeing fleet. It appeals to airlines in part because it’s more fuel efficient than older wide-body jets.
The delivery delay had affected both Boeing and its customers. In January, Boeing estimated the cost of making the repairs and compensating customers for the delay at about $3.5 billion. Earlier this year, American Airlines said a delivery freeze had forced it to cut several international routes it had planned to fly this summer.
Quality concerns included finding and filling paper-sized gaps in the plane’s body, replacing certain titanium parts that were made from the wrong material, and other repairs. Neither has an immediate impact on the safety of the Dreamliners flying today, Boeing said.
Boeing has already started inspecting and repairing its inventory of about 120 Dreamliners, but it wasn’t immediately clear how soon the company might start shipping the plane to customers again. An American executive said earlier this month that he expected to start receiving part of his order for Dreamliners in early August.
Boeing had already signaled last week that it was close to restarting deliveries. “We are preparing aircraft together with our customers and have completed flight checks on initial aircraft,” said Brian West, Boeing’s chief financial officer, on a call with investor analysts and reporters.
An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the decision. In a brief statement, Boeing said it “will continue to work transparently” with the agency and its customers to restart deliveries.
Boeing said last week that it was aiming to return to producing five Dreamliners a month, up from 14 a month it assembled before the pandemic.