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FAA starts investigation into safety problems with Boeing 787 Dreamliner

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© Kova1ev |

Airlines lining up for deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliners are facing longer wait times as the troubled manufacturer checks the plane on the production line for potential problems where the wings connect to the fuselage. An action plan should also be developed to inspect Dreamliners that have already been delivered. Delivered.

Yesterday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced an investigation into the 787, following allegations that employees failed to conduct inspections and falsified data.

Boeing informed the regulator last month that part of the assembly work on Dreamliners could be at risk. According to a message from Michael Stocker, head of the 787 program, a Boeing assembly line worker in South Carolina reported what appeared to be an “irregularity.” The subsequent investigation found that “several people had violated company policy by not performing the required test but recording the work as completed.”

Specifically, the workers are accused of failing to inspect the connections and grounding where the wings meet the fuselage.

This is the latest in a series of manufacturing defects that have hampered Dreamliner production since 2022, and portends further delays in the delivery of 787 aircraft and the withdrawal of already purchased aircraft from service for inspections.

Last month, Boeing announced that the ramp-up of its 787 production would be slower than expected, blaming supplier shortages of “a few key parts.”

Production of the B737 also slowed after an Alaska Airlines flight lost a panel shortly after takeoff in January, prompting a new investigation into Boeing’s safety culture.

In a market marked by a strong recovery in the travel sector, slow production of new models has forced passenger carriers to renew leases on aging aircraft. Jordi Boto, CEO of Airbus conversion specialist Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), said it has reduced the availability of aircraft for freighter conversions and increased the prices of aircraft that were otherwise headed for conversion.

Meanwhile, the additional audits at Boeing are putting pressure on the FAA, which is chronically short of resources. This not only affects the regulator’s inspection capacity, but also extends to aircraft certification. At this point, it remains to be seen when Boeing’s B777X will receive its certification to begin production.

And Boeing hasn’t delivered a 777 for passenger service in two years, reinforcing the need for airlines to hang on to aging planes while they wait for replacements.

The delays in 777X certification also raise questions about how quickly the regulator will give its blessing to the conversion of new freighters. Israel Aerospace Industries, which is leading the development of converted 777 freighters, expected to complete the type’s certification process earlier this year. Now management hopes this will be towards the end of the second quarter or early the third quarter.

Despite these stumbling blocks, EFW expects to increase production of converted aircraft. Mr Boto said the company was delivering planes every week. Next year, it plans to nearly double its A330 deliveries by 2023.

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