Boeing, slapped with a $6.6 mn FAA fine, faces a much greater 787 maintenance bill

According to a third industry source, Boeing is starting painstaking repairs and forensic examinations to correct structural integrity vulnerabilities embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s installed in the last year or so. Boeing Co. will pay US regulators $6.6 million as part of the settlement for production and safety-oversight lapses dating back years, a loss that comes as Boeing grapples with repairs to damaged 787 Dreamliner jets that may outweigh the federal penalty. According to a third industry source, Boeing is starting painstaking repairs and forensic examinations to correct structural integrity vulnerabilities embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s installed in the last year or so.

The checks and renovations might also take several weeks, if not months, per plane and cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, depending in large part on the number of planes and defects involved, according to the source. After the aviation authority claimed it refused to comply with a 2015 safety deal, the Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing had agreed to pay $6.6 million in fines. The sanctions include $5.4 million for failure to follow through with a deal in which Boeing agreed to strengthen and prioritize regulatory compliance, as well as $1.21 million to resolve two pending FAA enforcement lawsuits.

Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 as part of the deal, did not declined to be interviewed for comment immediately. According to two people familiar with the case, Boeing engineers are trying to assess the extent of checks, and whether the planes should be used as-is without posing a safety danger. According to another source, Boeing has not told airlines how many planes are affected. The FAA has reviewed cases of surveillance lapses, debris left inside completed planes, and executives placing pressure on workers handling safety controls for the FAA, individuals associated with the proceedings said.

For instance, Boeing told the FAA in August 2020 about the fault involving structural wrinkling in the inner fuselage skin where carbon-composite barrels are merged together to form the lightweight body of the aircraft. According to a third industry expert, the vulnerability went unchecked for months or longer because computerized protections that crunch data checking for accuracy vulnerabilities were not designed to search for the holes.