UPDATE – Boeing is telling its airline customers that it expects to resume deliveries of the 787 in the second half of this year, Reuters has reported on April 20. The report hasn’t been officially confirmed, but United Airlines and American Airlines are indicating in their Q1 results documents that the story is correct. ‘Boeing to resume 787 deliveries from July’.
In its Q1 2022 results that were presented on April 20, United Airlines has included its fleet plan as of April 18, which includes future deliveries. Although these fleet plans are always conditional, United indicates that it expects to take delivery of two 787s in Q3 and of another two in Q4, bringing the total fleet to 69 Dreamliners.
American Airlines is counting on the delivery of seven Dreamliners this year, it says in its Q1 results document that was released on April 21. This is three down on the ten aircraft for 2022 that it had listed in the previous 10K 2021 annual report. Comparing the latest 10Q with the previous 10K filing, projected 787 deliveries to American are as follows: seven in 2022 (10K: ten), six in 2023 (seven), and twelve in 2024 (eight). Deliveries from 2025 are unchanged for now, with nine in 2025, four in 2026, plus five from 2027 and beyond, bringing its total of to be delivered 787s to 43. American said in December that the deferral of thirteen deliveries will hurt its flight schedule for this summer as the carrier lacks sufficient widebodies. It said in January that it hoped to receive at least four 787-8s from April.
Boeing is to report on its Q1 2022 results coming Wednesday, April 27, but the resumption of deliveries is not in its own hands but in those of the FAA. It is the regulatory agency that needs to be satisfied that Boeing has taken all necessary steps to guarantee that production quality issues have been addressed correctly and will not happen again.
Number of quality issues since 2019
As reported here before, the Dreamliner suffered a number of quality issues. In 2019, incorrect shimming between aft fuselage sections was found. In September 2020, a skin flatness issue was discovered which, combined with the first flaw, could pose a safety of flight issue on a specific number of aircraft. Boeing paused deliveries from October 2020 until April 2021 but was able to deliver only four aircraft until it was forced to suspend deliveries again in May. This followed the discovery of a shimming issue on the forward bulkhead. Another quality issue was found that affected door surrounds.
Boeing has taken a $3.460 billion pre-tax non-cash charge on the 787 program in its 2021 results, it said on January 26. At the time, Boeing and Tier 1 supplier Spirit Aerosystems were doing rework on all of the 110 Dreamliners that were in storage in Everett and North Charleston. In the meantime, the FAA revoked Boeing’s ability to re-certify the reworked aircraft itself and instead said it would retain this authority until it is fully satisfied that the problems have been solved.
Lufthansa said in March that it is still expecting to take delivery of its first of 25 787-9s on order in the second quarter. The first aircraft has been doing test flights for some time and only seems to be waiting for the FAA to rubberstamp its delivery. Boeing’s 787 gross backlog in March shows 481 aircraft, but this includes 76 of which the delivery is uncertain. In March, Air China, CIT Leasing, and Avolon canceled their orders for a Dreamliner, likely for Boeing defaulting on its contractual delivery for more than a year.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.