U.S. Federal Aviation Administration inspectors responsible for clearing airplanes for delivery returned to work this week at Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina 787 plant following a nearly weeklong furlough due to the partial federal government shutdown, Boeing confirmed in a statement to AIN on Tuesday. The FAA has recalled some 800 employees considered “essential personnel,” including the Charleston inspectors and those involved in approving for delivery newly configured airplanes from Everett and Renton, Washington.
The shutdown threatened to delay deliveries and from Charleston because the FAA hasn’t yet granted the plant authority to assign FAA certification duties to designated company employees. Boeing’s factories in Washington state hold FAA Organization Designation Authorization (ODA), which gives company employees there authority to perform certain FAA certification duties such as clearing airplanes in pre-approved configurations for delivery.
Meanwhile, delays in processing title transfers and registration due to the closure of the FAA office in Oklahoma City continue to present difficulties. In fact, while Boeing cited the availability of an “alternate mail-in process” to gain temporary registration, the furlough of FAA registration personnel already halted delivery of a new Airbus A321 to JetBlue and an A330-200 to US Airways. Another two airliners, a Bombardier CRJ900 due for delivery to Delta Air Lines and a Q400 turboprop for Republic Airways, remain in Canada for the same reason. “The banks, the financiers, are waiting for that FAA registration in order to close financing,” a Bombardier spokesman told AIN. “I just know the FAA is not responding and this is why we have two aircraft waiting for delivery…I’m quite sure we’re exploring all [alternatives] because our customers are expecting delivery of these aircraft.”