New York: Boeing received preliminary US regulatory clearance to restart deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft, paving the way for the end to a drought that drained cash and dented the planemaker’s reputation for quality.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s plans to inspect and repair tiny manufacturing flaws in the Dreamliner’s carbon-composite frame, according to two people familiar with the plan. The jet manufacturer had largely halted deliveries since late 2020 as its engineers found improperly filled gaps in about 20 locations.
The FAA agreement is a milestone for the company, but it won’t immediately resume sales. Boeing must still make required fixes and get FAA inspectors to approve each aircraft, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information hasn’t been publicly announced.
A total of 120 of the jets, which retail for as much as $338 million, had been constructed but were parked and waiting for the FAA’s approval to resume sales, according to the company.
“We will continue to work transparently with the FAA and our customers towards resuming 787 deliveries,” Boeing said in an e-mailed statement.
The resumption of shipments will mark a financial turnaround for Boeing after years of operational lapses that have frustrated customers, suppliers and investors. It’s also a potential catalyst for Boeing shares, since the Arlington, Virginia-based company will start to unlock nearly $10 billion in cash tied up in about 120 Dreamliners stashed around its factories and in desert storage, according to Rob Spingarn, an analyst with Melius Research.
Boeing plans to gradually ramp up production as it reduces the inventory of undelivered 787s, Stan Deal, the company’s commercial chief, said in an interview at the Farnborough International Airshow. The aviation titan has been working with suppliers to step up hiring and prepare for the higher tempo, he said.