Boeing 787 Faces Fresh Investigation From FAA

Daniel Fowkes
07 May 2024
· Aircraft 
Boeing is facing fresh investigations over its 787 Dreamliner following concerns that inspection records were falsified on the widebody.

Boeing is once more under pressure as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opens a new investigation into the American manufacturer.

A move to investigate follows Boeing’s identification that required inspections on the 787 Dreamliner may not have been completed.

The FAA will investigate to confirm whether Boeing completed the required inspections and whether employees falsified aircraft records.

Following the announcement of the investigation, Boeing saw an immediate drop in its stock price as a response. The manufacturer has largely experienced turbulence since the beginning of 2024, with each month passing month, revealing some new and damming.

The FAA added that Boeing is currently reinspecting 787s in the production phase to determine if any faults are present. Additionally, the company must create a thorough plan to address the in-service fleet in response to these latest revelations.

The latest investigation focuses on the bonding and grounding where the wings join the fuselage. Moreover, the revelation centres once more around the quality of production and the negligence from top to bottom in maintaining the highest standards.

Per the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the story, the issues with the Dreamliner are not poised to create any immediate safety concerns. However, they are still alarming as, once more, the manufacturer negatively positions itself.

However, the FAA made it clear that Boeing had come forward voluntarily to reveal that specific inspections may not have been completed alongside a focus on the falsified record of documents.

A Focus On The Production Of Aircraft

When a door blowout incident occurred at the top of the 2024 calendar year, significant focus was placed on understanding how such a thing could happen. However, the angle changed quickly when further loose bolts were found on parked 737 MAX jets.

From focusing just on the incident, priorities were shifted to the integrity of Boeing planes. Additionally, attempting to understand how so many loose bolts were found and what had been going wrong on the production floor was key.

As part of an immediate response, the FAA launched several investigations into the aircraft manufacturer. Among these investigations, formal audits were conducted in the most thorough manner yet. These audits have seen the regulator get hands-on with the manufacturer as inspections are conducted on the production floor.

The Federal Aviation Administration has conducted several audits into production practises ongoing at Boeing. These audits aim to understand better what has gone wrong and put an immediate stop to it.

In response, Boeing has been unable to increase production rates for its aircraft. The FAA barred an increase, citing the negative ramifications of such a move that would be felt in the long-term focus on safety.

The FAA said Boeing must provide a comprehensive turnaround plan to address key concerns outlined across a multi-year period. Production ramp-ups are allowed only once the FAA is satisfied with Boeing’s work to turn around its fortunes and instil a new culture of quality and safety.

Inspections Lead To Findings

As Boeing faces further inspections, many new problems have been identified. Additionally, the manufacturer has come forward to identify several things that they may have missed.

Onlookers argue about what has been happening for the last decade when the pressures from the FAA and oversight were nowhere near as strong as they are now. Those same people argue that the thorough audits force Boeing to reveal the true magnitude of what’s been occurring internally.

In response to the difficulties, Boeing has seen several changes at the board level. However, this type of change is not the first time that Boeing has cleaned houses following the late 2010 MAX incidents. Despite several changes, this would not necessarily result in a big difference, as the same reoccurring problems of profits over safety would return in 2024.

Incidents such as those aboard Lion Air Flight JT610 led to significant changes within Boeing’s leadership team.

Analysts argue that Boeing must step back and rethink its long-term strategy. The hopeful result would see a shift in the culture and a greater priority placed on the quality of the aircraft delivered to customers.

Where Did Boeing Go Wrong?

Boeing has long struggled with quality issues. However, the rapid rate at which new ones are being identified is alarming.

Where did Boeing go wrong? Analysts share differing opinions when probed. Some point to the McDonnell Douglas merger of the late 1990s that saw an immediate shift in culture at Boeing. No longer was the sole priority building quality aircraft and innovating. The shift was visible with a larger focus on the stock market and profits.

Others will argue that the rails came off when Airbus began moving ahead with the A320neo. This re-engine promised to usher in a new era of the narrowbody scene, and Boeing was unprepared. The company knew a clean sheet would take too long, so it began a frantic chase to find ways to limit Airbus’ grip on the future market.

As a result, Boeing extended the capabilities of the 737NG further to the MAX. As highlighted in later investigations, corners were cut to get the aircraft on the market and limit losses to Airbus. This immediate chase for profits and, thus, a drop in the integrity of the aircraft being put out led to many problems occurring well into the 2020s.

However, the 2010s, now into the 2020s, have generally represented some of the company’s darker days. Looking ahead, the manufacturer will want to put all this behind and move forward more positively. When that is remains to be seen.

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