Federal regulators on Friday cleared the way for Boeing to restart deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, which was interrupted 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 as a major milestone on the road to delivery of the planes, according to a person familiar with the decision, who said: not authorized by the agency to share the news. The FAA will inspect the jets before they are handed over to Boeing customers.
The Dreamliner is a two-aisle aircraft commonly used for long international flights and is an important part of Boeing’s fleet. It appeals to airlines in part because it is more fuel efficient than older widebody aircraft.
The delay in delivery had hit both Boeing and its customers hard. 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 the supply freeze forced it to cancel several international routes it had planned this summer.
Quality issues included finding and filling wafer-thin holes in the aircraft’s body, replacing certain titanium parts made with the wrong material, and other repairs. None have an immediate impact on the safety of Dreamliners flying today, Boeing said.
Boeing has already started inspecting and repairing inventory of about 120 Dreamliners, but it wasn’t immediately clear how soon the company would be able to ship the plane back to customers. An executive at American said earlier this month it expects to receive part of its order from Dreamliners in early August.
Boeing had already signaled earlier this week that it was about to restart deliveries. “We are preparing aircraft with our customers and have completed flight checks on the first aircraft,” said Brian West, Boeing’s chief financial officer, during a meeting with investor analysts and reporters.
An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the decision. In a brief statement, Boeing said it would “continue to work transparently” with the agency and its customers to restart deliveries.
Boeing said this week it aims to return to production of five Dreamliners a month, up from the 14 it assembled each month before the pandemic.