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Exclusive: Boeing tells Qantas its 787s on track despite delivery ban

written by Adam Thorn | February 26, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Qantas 787, VH-ZNJ, in a special Qantas 100 livery

Boeing has reassured Qantas its three new 787s will arrive in June despite the planemaker now being banned from delivering the aircraft.

The new widebodies are already two years late and could be crucial to Qantas both launching new international routes or adding capacity to existing services.

Despite Boeing’s assurances, it will be the FAA, and not the planemaker, that will ultimately decide when deliveries can resume.

It comes after an apparent documentation error relating to a vital fuselage component led to the US government agency making an announcement on Friday.

The planemaker played down safety concerns on the aircraft currently flying and insisted only “near-term” deliveries would be affected.


Boeing said it discovered the “analysis error by our supplier” related to the 787 forward pressure bulkhead in the past week and alerted the FAA.

The component is located at the nose of the fuselage and acts as a barrier for the pressurised interior cabin.

“There is no immediate safety of flight concern for the in-service fleet,” Boeing said. “We are communicating with our customers and will continue to follow the lead of the FAA.

“While near-term deliveries will be impacted, at this time, we do not anticipate a change to our production and delivery outlook for the year.”

However, the FAA has said it will not allow Boeing to resume deliveries until the issue has been fixed.

Boeing last halted deliveries in 2021 after the FAA raised concerns about its inspection methods. When they resumed in August last year, the FAA took the unusual step of insisting it would sign off every aircraft individually.

Any further delays, though, could have huge implications for both airlines and Boeing, with 100 already-built Dreamliners awaiting delivery.

Boeing has seemingly remained bullish that there will be no problems. On Sunday morning, a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation that the planemaker confirmed deliveries of its aircraft would not be affected.

Qantas is looking to expand its international services with its three new 787s and is currently in talks with Air France to develop a direct route from Perth to France, as well as several other additional European locations.

The problems with the widebody 787 come after the narrowbody 737 MAX was grounded for more than 18 months following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.

The US Department of Justice subsequently fined Boeing US$2.5 billion for deceiving FAA safety officials who initially cleared it to fly.

In a scathing statement, a series of senior figures accused Boeing of “fraudulent and deceptive conduct”, “concealing material information”, and “engaging in an effort to cover up their deception”.

Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said then the huge penalty “appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations”.

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