Boeing Confirms ‘Adjusting Approach’ to FAA’s 787 Feedback

 - September 7, 2021, 11:58 AM
Boeing has struggled to deliver 787s this year due to ongoing inspections and rework related to skin flatness deficiencies and, most recently, gaps between parts of the forward pressure bulkhead. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing confirmed on Tuesday that feedback from the FAA on production snags involving the 787 has prompted it to continue to “adjust" its approach to addressing the agency’s concerns, resulting in what it calls “a near-term impact” to its operations. Meanwhile, sources familiar with the talks said that Boeing does not dispute a recent Wall Street Journal report indicating that the company won’t resume Dreamliner deliveries until late October, due at least in part to internal disagreements about the number of airplanes needed for a proper sample of production fixes to apply to 106 airplanes still in inventory.

“We have engaged with the FAA on this issue in meetings and working sessions over hundreds of hours and will continue to do so,” said Boeing in a statement to AIN. “Also as we have said, Boeing wants and expects our teammates to speak freely, ask questions, and present different perspectives about very complex and technical issues. We appreciate the FAA’s direction and feedback every step of the way and we adjust our approach when needed to address that feedback. While this work has a near-term impact to our operations, it's the right course of action and we will continue to take the time necessary to ensure we meet the highest standards.”

Boeing halted Dreamliner shipments late last year and eventually managed to deliver two by the end of the first quarter of this year. It delivered another 12 through late May when it again had to suspend shipments due to an FAA request for further documentation related to the quality problems.

Last September Boeing found that mechanics clamped together certain components in the horizontal stabilizer with greater force than required by engineering specifications, resulting in possible improper gap verification or shimming as workers assembled the component. That issue further slowed deliveries as the company performed special inspections to address imperfections in fuselage skins and shimming problems within some of the airplanes’ aft fuselages first discovered in 2019.

More recently, Boeing revealed in July that it found further problems involving the forward pressure bulkhead. During the inspections, engineers found small gaps between two sections of the bulkhead and reported the problem to the FAA. Rework involves removal and replacement of the component, confirmed a Boeing spokesperson. Whether or not airplanes already in service will need to undergo similar rework remained undetermined.