The United States government has approved the delivery of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner — nearly two years after production defects drew scrutiny and halted deliveries — clearing the way for American Airlines to take possession, the Reuters news agency reported citing people briefed on the matter.
American Airlines said it expects to receive its first Boeing 787 delivery of the year as early as Wednesday and that the plane will enter commercial service in the coming weeks. The plane is its first 787 delivery since April 2021.
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Earlier on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it expected Boeing to resume deliveries of its 787 in the coming days after the manufacturer made inspection and retrofit changes needed to meet certification standards.
Boeing shares climbed as much as 3.7 percent in New York following the announcement before paring the gain. The stock has fallen 18 percent this year.
Boeing halted deliveries in May 2021 after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method. In September 2020, the FAA said it was investigating manufacturing flaws in some 787 jetliners.
American Airlines said on a July earnings call it expects to receive nine 787s this year, including two in early August. It has 42 on order, excluding the plane it expects to receive this week.
Boeing said it continues “to work transparently with the FAA and our customers towards resuming 787 deliveries”.
‘Inspect each aircraft’
Last month, the FAA approved Boeing’s plan for specific inspections to verify the aeroplane meets requirements and that all retrofit work has been completed.
Boeing has about 120 Dreamliners awaiting delivery. The FAA said it “will inspect each aircraft before an airworthiness certificate is issued and cleared for delivery”. Typically the FAA delegates aeroplane ticketing authority to the manufacturer but in some instances, like the 737 MAX, it has retained responsibility for approving each new plane.
In the aftermath of two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019, the FAA pledged to scrutinize Boeing more closely and delegate fewer responsibilities to Boeing for aircraft certification.
On Thursday, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen met with FAA safety inspectors in South Carolina as the agency mulled whether to allow Boeing to resume 787 deliveries.
Before Boeing suspended production, the FAA had previously issued two airworthiness directives to address production issues for in-service aircraft. It identified a new issue in July 2021.
The planemaker had resumed deliveries in March 2021 after a five-month hiatus before halting them again. The FAA said earlier it wanted Boeing to ensure it “has a robust plan for the re-work that it must perform on a large volume of new 787s in storage” and that “Boeing’s delivery processes are stable”.
In January, Boeing disclosed a $3.5bn charge due to 787 delivery delays and customer concessions, and another $1bn in abnormal production costs stemming from production flaws and related repairs and inspections.