US FAA finds Boeing 787 certification documents incomplete: sources

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

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified a number of omissions in Boeing’s documentation, submitted in late April, and returned portions of it to the aircraft manufacturer, one of the people said.

A second person said it was too early to say whether FAA concerns would cause a further delay in the resumption of deliveries, suspended for a year due to production defects.

Boeing shares pared gains on Friday afternoon to trade 1% lower at $125.12 after rising 6.2% earlier in the session.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun highlighted the bid during the company’s April 27 earnings call, calling it a “very important milestone” and saying it was preparing the first 787s for delivery, but refrained from providing a date.

People briefed on this say the submission was made shortly before the call.

A Boeing spokesperson said the company continues to have a transparent dialogue and work closely with the FAA on the remaining steps.

An FAA spokesperson declined to elaborate, saying only, “Safety dictates the pace of our examinations.”

Eliminating a bloated inventory of twin-aisle Dreamliners and its best-selling 737 MAX jets is vital to the US aircraft maker’s ability to weather the pandemic and overlapping aircraft safety crises, a task complicated by supply chain bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine.

Deliveries of the 787 have been halted for a year as Boeing carries out inspections and repairs in an industrial puzzle expected to cost around $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 new individual Boeing 787 planes. Then-FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said the agency needed Boeing “a systemic solution to its production processes.” They must produce on their production line the quality that we seek and to which they are committed.

The FAA said in February it would retain the authority to issue certificates of airworthiness until it is satisfied that “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787s that meet the design standards of the AAF”.

Reuters reported in late April that Boeing had informed major airlines and parts suppliers that deliveries would resume in the second half of this year, with an industry source saying deliveries could resume within weeks.

Boeing’s certification dossier is a large collection of documents and data that shows the jet’s compliance, although the FAA controls the final decision. The package outlines inspections and repairs Boeing will undertake on dozens of planes sidelined by production defects. Documentation is a crucial step before Boeing can resume deliveries.

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Brian West made upbeat comments about the 787’s progress at a Goldman Sachs conference this week.

“This certification plan submission was a significant milestone, and it reflects a comprehensive set of very comprehensive documents that verify that we are in compliance,” West said. “And there’s been an awful lot of work in there, working side-by-side with the FAA along the way.”

Boeing suspended 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 with in-service aircraft and identified a new problem in July.

“Just a reminder, we haven’t seen anything new in a while,” West added. “So we’re working hard to make sure that submission is complete, and now the FAA has it, and we’re ready and willing to participate in any discussion, answer any questions, and help them do their job as they go along. as they progress through their certain protocols.


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