U.S. air-safety regulators say Boeing documentation is incomplete

46
3
U.S. air-safety regulators say Boeing documentation is incomplete

U.S. air-safety regulators have told Boeing Co the documentation it submitted to resume 787 deliveries to airlines after a year is incomplete, two people familiar with the matter said.

One person said that the FAA sent portions of the Boeing documentation back to the planemaker after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration discovered a number of omissions in its documentation, which was submitted in late April.

A second person said it was too early to say whether FAA concerns would lead to a new delay in resuming deliveries, which have been suspended for the past year due to production flaws.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun called it a very important step and said that it was preparing the first 787 s for delivery, but stopped short of a date in the company's April 27 earnings call.

The submission was made shortly before the call, according to people briefed on the matter.

A Boeing spokeswoman said the company continued to have a transparent dialogue and would work closely with the FAA on the remaining steps.

Safety drives the pace of our reviews, according to an FAA spokesman. Clearing a swollen inventory of twin-aisled Dreamliners and its best-selling 737 MAX jets is vital to the U.S. planemaker's ability to emerge from the overlapping pandemic and jet-safety crises, a task complicated by supply-chain bottlenecks and war in Ukraine.

Deliveries of the 787 have been halted for a year as Boeing worked through inspections and repairs in an industrial headache expected to cost about $5.5 billion. Boeing has more than 100 of the advanced composite twin-aisle jets in inventory, worth about $12.5 billion.

In February, the FAA said it would not allow Boeing to self-certify individual Boeing 787 planes. The agency needed a systemic fix to the production processes, according to Steve Dickson, the agency's FAA administrator. They have to make sure they have the quality on their production line that they're looking for and that they've committed to. In February the FAA said it would retain the authority to issue airworthiness certificates until it is confident that Boeing's quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787 s that meet FAA design standards. In late April, Reuters reported that Boeing advised key airlines and parts suppliers that deliveries would resume in the second half of the year, with one industry source saying deliveries could resume in a matter of weeks.

Boeing's certification package contains a vast set of documents and data that show the airline's compliance, though the FAA controls the final determination. The Boeing package lays out inspections and repairs on dozens of planes sidelined by production flaws. Documentation is a crucial step before Boeing can resume deliveries.

Brian West, Boeing's chief financial officer, made positive comments on the 787's progress at a Goldman Sachs conference this week.

West said that this certification plan submission was an important milestone and it shows that we are in conformance with a comprehensive set of documents. There has been an enormous amount of work into that, working side by side with the FAA along the way. Boeing halted deliveries of the 787 in late May 2021 after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method. The regulatory agency had issued two airworthiness directives to address production issues for in-service airplanes and identified a new issue in July.

West said that we haven't really seen anything new in a long time. We are working hard to make sure that submission is thorough, and now the FAA has it, and we are standing by ready to enter any discussion, answer any question and help them do their work as they move through their certain protocols.