Boeing Co. is laying plans to restart 787 Dreamliner handovers that have been largely halted since late 2020, notifying customers of their place in the delivery queue as it works with US regulators to complete the final paperwork.
The planemaker is “almost there” on returning the Dreamliner to service, said Stan Deal, head of Boeing’s commercial airplane division. The company has reviewed the carbon-composite frames for tiny structural imperfections with regulators and key suppliers. He didn’t offer specific details on timing.
“There’s been steady progress,” Deal said Thursday on the sidelines of a UK Aviation Club event in London. “There’s a lot of paperwork you have to turn in so we’ve been focused on that and on the restoration of the airplane.”
Resuming 787 handovers and speeding up 737 Max deliveries are key to Boeing’s efforts to finally start generating cash after years of losses and regulatory scrutiny following two airplane crashes in 2018 and 2019. Hundreds of undelivered aircraft are stashed around its factories and in storage yards, including around 330 Max and about 30 of the hulking 777X, which won’t enter the market until 2025, according to Ron Epstein, an analyst with Bank of America.
Boeing is using the lessons learned from returning its 737 Max narrow-body jets to service following a lengthy grounding, Deal said at the UK event. The company will proceed in “modest steps” as it resumes Dreamliner production and deliveries.
The planemaker has grappled with structural glitches since 2020 that have turned its popular wide-body jet into a drain on cash. As of mid-May, nearly 120 undelivered Dreamliners were in storage or undergoing inspections and repairs for gaps smaller than the width of a human hair in some instances, Epstein said in a June 13 note to clients.
Inspectors from the US Federal Aviation Administration will be required to sign off on every 787 before they are flown away by customers, limiting the pace at which Boeing can re-establish deliveries, Epstein noted.
Boeing’s shares slipped less than 1% at 1:38 p.m. in New York.