Dreamliner manufacturing process flawed: FAA

BOEING and US regulators fell short in quality control over subcontractors during the development of the 787 Dreamliner, according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review. However, the aircraft design has been found to be safe.

Battery failures last year in the 787 planes to be flown by Japan Airlines and ANA had led to a three-month grounding of the aircraft.

“After the first Boeing 787 battery incident last year, I called for a comprehensive review of the entire design, manufacture and assembly process for the aircraft as well as a critical look at our own oversight,” said FAA administrator Michael PHuerta.

In a press statement, FAA said as one indicator of the B787’s intended safety level, An FAA review team compared service reliability data from the time the aircraft first started service with similar data from other previous Boeing airplane models.

The team determined that the B787’s reliability performance in the first 16 months of service was comparable to the reliability of other new Boeing models over the same time period.
It however, identified issues in the manufacturing and supplier quality areas and made four recommendations to Boeing accordingly.

Three recommendations were made to FAA for improved, risk-based FAA oversight to account for new business models. FAA is already revising internal policies and procedures for manufacturing oversight.

Boeing is recommended to continue to implement and mature gated design and production processes; ensure suppliers are fully aware of their responsibilities; establish a way to ensure suppliers identify realistic program risks; and require its suppliers to follow industry standards for personnel performing Boeing-required inspections.

The team recommends that FAA revise its order on certificate management of manufacturers to recognise new aircraft manufacturing business models; revise its order on production approval procedures to more fully address complex, large-scale manufacturers with extended supply chains; and revise other orders to ensure engineering conformity inspections for all projects are based on risk.

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