Boeing 787 Dreamliner: shining star or next in line for trouble?

Nick Whittle,

When authorities around the world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX, the wide-body 787 Dreamliner was left to pick up the pieces. For the first time since entering service in 2011, the aircraft model accounted for approximately half of all the manufacturer’s orders and deliveries in 2019, the company revealed on January 14, 2020. Yet, it still has its own fair share of problems, such as impending production cuts. 

Boeing to cut 787 production even more?

The worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX in March 2019 hit hard Boeing’s orders and deliveries in 2019. While the plane remained on the ground for the rest of the year, Boeing’s deliveries fell from 580 in 2018 to 127 in 2019. The ongoing scandal appears to have also changed client’s attitude towards the airliner, which reflects in the sharp drop of orders: from 678 in 2018 to only 67 in 2019.

With the 737 MAX out of the game for the better part of the year, around half of the company’s orders and deliveries activity revolved around the second place runner ‒ the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In 2019, the model constituted for 112 out of 243 planes ordered; and out of 380 deliveries through the year, 158 were Dreamliners. 

Now it seems that keeping the company’s books alive and active might not be enough for the wide-body. Boeing is reportedly considering a further reduction of its 787 output, as several media outlets, reported earlier in January 2020, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Previously, Boeing stated itself that production cuts of the 787 were coming. In October 2019, the company revealed that the following year, in 2020, it would cut the output of the wide-body jets from 14 to 12 per month. But now, reports indicate that the pace of building up these wide-bodies might actually be slowed down even further: down to only 11 or 10 aircraft per month. 

Trouble with 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not without its own problems. The model is plagued with engine problems ever since 2016. On January 24, 2020, it suffered the newest round of trouble when EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an airworthiness directive, demanding operators to de-pair certain Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines on the Boeing 787. 

Rolls-Royce is reportedly now replacing over 30 Boeing 787 engines, in cases where both Trent 1000 turbines have accrued a high number of flight cycles or flight hours. It is feared that if not de-paired, the engines could suffer a dual power surge leading to a dual in-flight shutdown. 

Finally, Boeing 787 Dreamliner is haunted by the 737 MA’s shadow of safety concerns after a former Boeing employee, who used to work for the company as the quality control engineer, denied considering the wide-body planes airworthy, especially those built North Charleston factory. In particular, the ex-employee said that some of the currently flying Boeing 787 Dreamliners could have faulty oxygen systems, debris posing safety threats, or be made of defective parts.


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