On March 10th, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted permission to Boeing to recommence its delivery of the highly in-demand Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which had been halted for the third time in three years as of January 26th. According to Reuters, the weeks-long delivery stoppage was due to an “analysis error by [a] supplier” linked to a component of the fuselage. However, Boeing has stated that this issue does not pose any safety concerns.
Boeing has previously suspended deliveries of the 787. In 2019, production issues emerged when the company’s engineers identified minute gaps in the plane’s fuselage, resulting in eight Dreamliners being grounded. This problem led to an FAA inquiry, which temporarily halted deliveries in October of 2020. Deliveries resumed only in March 2021, and Boeing dispatched a total of 14 Dreamliners by May of the same year.
The FAA has halted Boeing’s delivery of the highly coveted Boeing 787 Dreamliner once again, this time for a record-breaking 15 months until August 2022, due to fresh production issues and concerns over the aircraft’s inspection method. As a result, the total number of jets that couldn’t be delivered was 120, valued at $25 billion.
Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, expressed concerns about Boeing’s ability to deliver aircraft on time, which could prompt airlines to consider a competing plane instead, such as the Airbus A350. The delay is problematic for airlines as they build their schedules and business plans around expected aircraft deliveries, and delays that last several months can have significant impacts.
American Airlines was reportedly forced to cancel its Philadelphia to Madrid route due to the lack of necessary 787s, and it had to cancel several international flights for the same reason last year. Despite this, Boeing has stated that it does not anticipate any changes to its production and delivery outlook for the year.
Despite the latest halt in deliveries, the demand for the Dreamliner remains high, with the planemaker receiving about 200 orders for Dreamliner aircraft in the past four months alone. This includes 100 orders from United Airlines, 20 from Air India, and 78 from two Saudi Arabian carriers in a deal worth $37 billion. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun stated in mid-March that the demand for 787s is the “biggest I’ve ever seen.”
Henry Harteveldt spoke about the popularity of the Boeing 787 due to its fuel efficiency, versatility, and passenger comfort. The aircraft is capable of operating ultra-long-haul flights, and its three different sizes (small, medium, and large) make it ideal for airlines with different needs.
Boeing plans to increase production to 10 jets per month by 2026, with the order book filling up quickly. However, outside factors could slow down production, such as the many contractors and subcontractors involved in producing the aircraft’s components.
Richard Aboulafia, managing director of aviation consulting firm AeroDynamic Advisory, believes the FAA’s strict response to the Dreamliner issues goes back to the 737 MAX tragedies of 2018 and 2019. These incidents resulted in the worldwide grounding of the plane and caused 346 fatalities. The FAA has since taken over the responsibility of determining if a new individual MAX or Dreamliner jet is airworthy.