Regulators won’t let Boeing certify new 787 jets for flight
The Federal Aviation Administration said it informed Boeing of its decision on Tuesday.
The FAA said that once deliveries of 787s resume, it will perform final inspections and retain authority to license each new aircraft until it is satisfied that Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing will “consistently produce of 787s that meet FAA design standards. He also said Boeing needs to have a plan to handle the planes that need to be reworked.
“This will allow the agency to confirm the effectiveness of the steps Boeing has taken to improve the 787 manufacturing process,” the FAA said in a statement.
For years, the FAA has relied on Boeing employees to certify aircraft airworthiness by delegating certain company employees to act on the agency’s behalf. The practice has come under heavy criticism after two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes and revelations that FAA officials knew little about the major flight control systems involved in the crashes.
The 787, a larger aircraft than the 737, was plagued with production flaws such as unacceptable gaps between fuselage panels. Deliveries were halted briefly in late 2020, then again in May 2021 and have not resumed.
Boeing has over 100 787s undelivered. The halt in shipments deprived Chicago-based Boeing Co. of the money airlines pay when they receive new planes.
Boeing, fearing it appeared to be pressuring the FAA to resume deliveries, declined to give investors an idea of when 787 shipments might resume. A spokeswoman said Tuesday, “We will continue to engage with the FAA to ensure we meet their expectations and meet all applicable requirements.”
Separately, Democrats who lead the House Transportation Committee renewed their criticism of the FAA and called for a federal review of the agency’s oversight of the Boeing 737.
Lawmakers questioned why the FAA failed to take action against Boeing for, they said, downplaying the flight control system, which repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down before both crashes. They also suggested that the FAA should have taken action against Boeing for selling 737 Max jets on which a system designed to warn pilots of the failure of key sensors was not working on about 80% of planes.
Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., who leads its aviation subcommittee, said the “glaring lack of enforcement” could encouraging aircraft manufacturers to ignore future aircraft design standards. They asked the Inspector General of the Ministry of Transport to look into the matter.
Boeing declined to comment on the lawmakers’ request.
Boeing shares gained 3.7% to close at $217.73 on Tuesday.