Boeing trims 787 Dreamliner production rate amid quality issues

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On July 13, 2021, Boeing announced it would trim Boeing 787 Dreamliner production rate over recently reported manufacturing issues in undelivered 787s.

“The 787 production rate will temporarily be lower than five per month and will gradually return to that rate,” read Boeing’s statement. “Boeing now expects to deliver fewer than half of the 787s currently in inventory this year.” 

The American aircraft manufacturer has been in detailed discussions with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on “verification methodology for 787 fuselages, and conducting associated inspections and rework”. 

The latest manufacturing issue was located “near the nose on certain 787 Dreamliners,” the FAA spokesperson told Reuters on July 13, 2021. “This issue was discovered as part of the ongoing system-wide inspection of Boeing’s 787 shimming processes required by the FAA.” 

Speaking at the Bernstein virtual conference on June 3, 2021, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun hoped that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner production rates would eventually reach pre-COVID-19 levels. 

“We will get back to the rates that we used to be at. We believe in that airplane,” Calhoun said while talking about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner production rates. “You don’t go from five to that number overnight. You get there in increments. We have plenty of cycle time to stage those increments appropriately, reconfigure the flow of airplanes through the factories such that we can accommodate those rates.” 

However, the timeline of when Boeing could revive Boeing 787 Dreamliner production rate to pre-COVID-19 levels seems to be unknown, as it yet again faces new quality lapses.

Recurring production flaws

A production issue with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner first was found in late August 2020, as it appeared that the aft fuselage section of some Dreamliners would not be able to withstand maximum stress, making it more prone to a structural failure whilst in the air. 

Another problem was found in September 2020, related to the tail fin of the aircraft. Parts of the horizontal stabilizer were clamped together with greater force than they were designed to.

In May 2021, following the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) request for more data on Boeing’s proposed solution to address previously disclosed Boeing 787 Dreamliner manufacture issues, the Chicago-based aircraft giant halted deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliner once again.

“We are working with the FAA to alter some of our production control systems,” Calhoun explained earlier in June 2021. 


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