Qantas’ plan to introduce three more 787s into its fleet in June could be disrupted after Boeing was forced to halt deliveries of the aircraft due to a documentation issue with a fuselage component.
The planemaker played down safety concerns on the aircraft currently flying and insisted only “near-term” deliveries would be affected.
Qantas has a fleet of 11 Dreamliners that fly long-haul routes, including its flagship service from London to Perth.
Boeing said on Friday it discovered the “analysis error by our supplier” related to the 787 forward pressure bulkhead in the past week.
“There is no immediate safety of flight concern for the in-service fleet,” the business said. “We are communicating with our customers and will continue to follow the lead of the FAA. While near-term deliveries will be impacted, at this time, we do not anticipate a change to our production and delivery outlook for the year.”
The FAA has said it will not allow Boeing to resume deliveries until the issue has been fixed. Boeing last halted deliveries in 2021 after the organisation raised concerns about its inspection methods.
Any delay, though, could have huge implications for both airlines and Boeing, with 100 already-built Dreamliners awaiting delivery.
The forward pressure bulkhead is located at the nose of the fuselage and acts as a barrier for the pressurised interior cabin.
Qantas is looking to expand its international services with its three new 787s and is currently in talks with Air France to develop a direct route from Perth to France, as well as several other additional European locations. The trio of aircraft are already two years late because of supply chain issues.
The problems come two years after the US Department of Justice fined Boeing US$2.5 billion for deceiving FAA safety officials who initially cleared the narrowbody 737 MAX to fly.
The aircraft was grounded after two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.
In a scathing statement, a series of senior figures accused Boeing of “fraudulent and deceptive conduct”, “concealing material information” and “engaging in an effort to cover up their deception”.
Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said then the huge penalty “appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations”.
The news also comes just a day after Qantas CEO Joyce said he had been told by “aircraft manufacturers” that “some of our deliveries will be pushed back by up to six months”.
The Flying Kangaroo is therefore leasing more aircraft from Alliance to provide a “rapid injection of extra capacity domestically”.
Australian Aviation has approached Qantas for comment.