Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets, which have been in delivery suspension since July, are expected to remain halted until at least late October.
According to sources who spoke to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the US planemaker is still yet to convince regulators to inspect the aircraft.
When deliveries were first paused, Boeing expected the defects to only cause a three-week further delay, but now it’s feared the uncertain timestamp may increase airline cancellations.
On 2 August, Boeing met with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to persuade the regulator to inspect the jets in a more efficient method than nose-to-tail checks.
Boeing’s quality assurance specialist told the FAA it planned to show three jets that represented how over 100 aircraft – awaiting delivery – were manufactured, according to sources.
But a Boeing engineer told the regulator that was not correct and the three jets would not reflect the others.
This led to the FAA reporting internal company disagreements over the sample size of jets, and now Boeing has expanded it to 10 aircraft samples for a broader reflection of the inventory.
An FAA spokesperson said the regulator would not accept the proposal to inspect “until our safety experts are satisfied”.
One hundred and six Dreamliners across numerous airlines have been awaiting delivery, impeding on around US$25 billion sent to Boeing as most of the payment is made when the jet arrives.
Boeing said it is committed to working with the FAA to resolve the issue and said it would remain transparent during the process.
“Boeing wants and expects our teammates to speak freely, ask questions and present different perspectives about very complex and technical issues,” a spokesman said.
In early July, the FAA discovered another new manufacturing issue on Boeing 787s during the system-wide inspection of the planemaker’s shimming process.
The regulator found a defect near the nose on certain Dreamliners in the company’s undelivered inventory, which led to the pause in deliveries.
From Boeing’s last order report in July, two unidentified customers placed an order for five 787s in total, adding to the already high backlog.
The news followed a similar issue less than a year before at the time in September 2020 when two manufacturing issues were found in fuselage sections of eight Dreamliners.
Chicago-based Boeing found that the defects could cause the jet to fail and deteriorate quickly under extreme conditions – which led to the eight aircraft being removed from service.
These continuous issues may lead to mass cancellations from Boeing customers, especially if some take advantage of the period where no penalty will be imposed on ending a contract – typically within a year.