Boeing cuts 787 Dreamliner manufacturing, supply goal after new flaw discovered

Boeing cut its delivery target for its undelivered 787 Dreamliner planes and said it will temporarily lower production rates after a new defect was detected on some of the wide-body jets.

Boeing said Tuesday it would deliver fewer than half of the Dreamliners that it has already produced but has not yet delivered to customers.

CEO Dave Calhoun said at an investor conference last month that the company would deliver the “the lion’s share” of the roughly 100 Dreamliners in its inventory this year.

Boeing halted deliveries of the wide-body planes in May for the second time in less than a year as the Federal Aviation Administration reviewed the manufacturer’s method for evaluating the aircraft. Boeing first disclosed incorrect spacing in some parts of certain 787 aircraft, including the fuselage, last year, halting deliveries for five months.

The FAA on Monday said the latest issue was related to that and detected “near the nose” of certain 787 Dreamliners that Boeing has manufactured but not delivered.

The majority of an aircraft’s price is paid when they are handed over to customers, so further delivery delays would mean more financial strain for Boeing, which is trying to regain its footing after two fatal crashes grounded its best-selling 737 Max as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing shares were down more than 2% in premarket trading.

“This issue was discovered as part of the ongoing system-wide inspection of Boeing’s 787 shimming processes required by the FAA,” the agency said. “Although the issue poses no immediate threat to flight safety, Boeing has committed to fix these airplanes before resuming deliveries.”

Boeing said it would reduce production to fewer than the current rate of five planes a month for a few weeks but declined to say by how much. Boeing will reassign staff on the production line to inspect planes and make any necessary repairs.

“Based on data, the FAA will determine whether similar modifications should be made on 787s already in commercial service,” the FAA said.

Boeing also said Tuesday that it delivered 45 planes last month, 33 of them 737 Maxes. In the first half of the year the company handed over 156 planes, one fewer than its total for all of 2020, when coronavirus devastated the industry.

Net orders for the month totaled 146 planes, while gross orders of 219 were the highest in two years.

Those included an order for 200 Maxes to United Airlines, which the carrier announced last month along with an order for 70 Airbus narrow-body planes.

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