As part of the FAA’s ongoing scrutiny of Boeing’s flagship widebody, the 787 Dreamliner, another flaw has been found in the quality of the manufacturing process. This time, there’s an issue near the nose of the plane, which has been identified on undelivered 787s in Boeing’s inventory. Boeing will need to fix the issue before these planes can be delivered; the FAA is still deciding if action is required relating to the in-service fleet.
Yet another production issue for Boeing’s widebody flagship
Yet another issue has been identified with Boeing’s flagship widebody, the 787 Dreamliner. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that Boeing is working to fix a manufacturing defect that has been identified on some undelivered jets. The planemaker will be required to rectify the issue before the aircraft are delivered to customers.
In a statement, the FAA said that the fault was, “near the nose on certain 787 Dreamliners in the company’s inventory of undelivered airplanes. This issue was discovered as part of the ongoing system-wide inspection of Boeing’s 787 shimming processes required by the FAA.”
Reporting in Bloomberg adds some color to this, stating the people ‘familiar with the matter’ had elaborated on the fault. The report claims that there is some wrinkling in the forward pressure bulkhead located in the nose of the jet. The issue is not considered to be a threat to flight safety.
The FAA further stated,
“Although the issue poses no immediate threat to flight safety, Boeing has committed to fix these airplanes before resuming deliveries. Based on data, the FAA will determine whether similar modifications should be made on 787s already in commercial service.”
It is estimated that Boeing currently has around 100 undelivered Dreamliners in its stored inventory. The planemaker had previously set out a target to deliver the majority of these aircraft before the end of the year. Still, with ongoing border restrictions hampering operations and now a new issue to fix, Boeing has an uphill battle to meet that goal.
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Deliveries are already paused
Boeing had paused deliveries of the Dreamliner in May this year, as the FAA continued to scrutinize the aircraft. The May pause came after Boeing had only resumed deliveries for a matter of weeks, following a pause in handover to clients that had been in place since October.
Issue after issue has plagued the aircraft since the FAA stepped in to scrutinize its production standards. Initial problems around shimming and a lack of flatness in structural joins were followed by the discovery of flaws in the tail of the aircraft. In April, the FAA had issued an Airworthiness Directive requiring inspections of all US-registered Dreamliners due to concerns over decompression panels disengaging.
Despite all these problems arising from the FAA’s ongoing inspections, none are considered to be a threat to the safety of the aircraft’s operations. In many cases, Boeing has proactively identified the flaws itself and notified the FAA and its customers. It has issued its own service bulletins to operators calling for checks, and is supportive of the actions that have been taken by the FAA to date.
Nevertheless, with every new issue, it’s another layer of cost and reputational damage for Boeing. The company referred to the same statement made in its Q2 earnings report, which said,
“We will continue to take the necessary time to ensure Boeing airplanes meet the highest quality prior to delivery. Across the enterprise, our teams remain focused on safety and integrity as we drive stability, first-time quality and productivity in our operations.”