Boeing delivered a 787 Dreamliner to Turkish Airlines on Friday, the first handover of that jet in more than five weeks.
However, that plane was issued its airworthiness certificate and cleared for delivery last fall. That was before 787 deliveries were initially halted in October following the discovery of defects at the fuselage joins on some aircraft due to a manufacturing issue.
A Boeing official said Turkish chose to postpone the delivery in order for the verification and inspection activities on the fuselage joins to be completed.
Otherwise, the current stoppage in 787 deliveries remains in place.
“The airplane delivered last week was ticketed for delivery prior to our current pause, and was being held at Boeing at the customer’s request,” Boeing said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with our customers and regulators through the current ticketing delay.”
The Federal Aviation Administration still hasn’t approved a proposal by Boeing to use statistical sampling to inspect for the potential defects at the fuselage joins.
The inspection process for those planes already built is painstaking. It involves taking apart some of the interior sidewall.
Boeing believes it can sample planes that have followed each other down the assembly line without inspecting every single one. An FAA official said the safety agency wants proof that’s acceptable and is requiring Boeing to provide data and to fully document a justification for the sampling approach before it will give the OK.
“Boeing still needs to show that its proposed inspection method would meet FAA’s federal safety regulations,” the federal agency said late last month. “The FAA is waiting for additional data.”
From early October through the spring, about 100 completed 787s accumulated on the ground during the initial delivery pause over this issue. After Boeing developed its inspection and repair protocol, the FAA gave its approval in March to resume deliveries.
However, when Boeing then proposed to conduct further inspections by sampling, the FAA came back to Boeing seeking more data. Last month, Boeing chose to stop deliveries again as it gathers that data and awaits final approval.
Earlier this year, a different manufacturing problem forced a separate delivery pause on Boeing’s other key airplane, the 737 MAX, when engineers discovered an electrical grounding problem in some panels in the flight deck.
MAX deliveries were halted and more than 100 of the airplanes already delivered were taken out of service for five weeks until Boeing developed and retrofitted a fix that the FAA approved. Deliveries of the MAX resumed last month.