Despite a spate of problems, a yearlong review of the much-troubled 787 Dreamliner by the FAA and Boeing shows the jet meets a "high level of safety," the federal agency and the company reported Wednesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft builder initiated the joint examination in January 2013, shortly before all 787s were grounded for several months because of battery fires on two planes.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta asked for the review after a lithium-ion battery caught fire on a 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston. A battery aboard another 787 failed less than two weeks later.
"The review's findings validate the integrity of the airplane's design and confirm the strength of the processes used to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after the airplane's certification," Boeing said in a statement.
Boeing makes parts for and assembles the 787 in North Charleston and Everett, Wash., the hub of the company's airplane-making operations.
"The findings validate our confidence in both the design of the airplane and the disciplined process used to identify and correct in-service issues as they arise," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.
The company will continue to improve 787 production as it moves forward, Conner said.
Boeing is currently trying to build 10 787s a month, three of those in North Charleston, to catch up on a backlog of orders from airlines worldwide. It's offering an extra bonus to local workers this spring to meet production goals.
The review team outlined four recommended improvements for Boeing.
Three of the recommendations focus on improving the flow of information, standards and expectations between the company and its suppliers. The Chicago-based company already has taken significant steps to implement these recommendations, Boeing said.
The fourth recommendation encourages the airplane manufacturer to continue implementing and maturing the gated processes for development programs.
"Gated process" refers to the disciplined criteria followed as a new airplane model is developed. This ensures a sufficient level of maturity is gained before a program proceeds to key milestones such as design completion, production start and entry into service, Boeing said.
The company has made a range of improvements to its airplane development processes since the start of the 787 program, including a restructuring last year to bring all commercial airplane development programs under one umbrella organization, Boeing said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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