Boeing confirms it has paused aircraft deliveries to customers in China due to concerns by Chinese regulators about a lithium battery found in the cockpit voice recorders of Boeing jets.

The delivery pause, reported on 22 May by Reuters, is among factors keeping the company from ramping up aircraft deliveries in the second quarter, says chief financial officer Brian West.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China “has asked for additional validation of a lithium battery” found in 737 Max, 777 and 787 voice recorders, West said on 23 May during an investor conference hosted by Wolfe Research.

Air China 737 Max-c-Boeing

Source: Boeing

“Because of that, we have not been delivering airplanes to China recently,” West adds. “We will work very closely with the regulator [and] follow their lead.”

West does not say how long Boeing’s deliveries to China have been on hold or might remain so.

Boeing says it is ”working with our Chinese customers on the timing of their deliveries as the Civil Aviation Administration of China completes its review of batteries contained within the 25-hour cockpit voice recorder assembly unit. The FAA has certified this system and it has been accepted by EASA. We defer to the FAA and the CAAC on this regulatory discussion.”

The Federal Aviation Administration did not respond to a request for comment.

Boeing’s publicly available deliveries log, current through the end of April, shows it delivered five aircraft – four 737 Max and one 787 – to Chinese customers that month.

The issue “will very likely” depress Boeing’s overall second-quarter deliveries, says West. But other factors are also holding back sales.

Specifically, Boeing in recent months significantly slowed 737 Max production in a bid to finally fix nagging quality problems that became vividly evident when an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 lost a door plug during a 5 January flight – an event investigators have implied resulted from workers at Boeing’s Renton facility failing to install the bolts intended to secure the plug.

Meanwhile, Boeing has been conducting additional 787 evaluations after a worker identified an “irregularity with a required non-conformance test on the wing-body join”, West notes.

That irregularity, according to media reports, involved workers reporting that tests had been completed when they actually had not.

“We now have to conduct this test… for any aircraft in the build sequence,” West says. “It will have some near-term impact as we complete this work.”

He adds that Boeing does not believe the 787 disruption will keep it from hitting a goal of ramping 787 production to five jets monthly before year-end.

West also says lingering supply chain troubles continue limiting Boeing’s production. “We still have heat exchangers and seats that are pacing items, that we are working our away through.”

He says Boeing’s second-quarter aircraft delivery volume will likely be similar to its first-quarter volume. Boeing delivered 83 jets in the first quarter, down from 130 in the first quarter of 2023.

Broadly, West predicts Boeing’s “operational and financial performance” will improve in the second half of 2024” and says the company expects to bring 737 production to a rate of 38 jets monthly before year-end.

At the beginning of 2025, Boeing “will be more or less in the spot where we thought we were [going to be] this year, but with a much stronger foundation”.

Story updated on 23 May to include comments from Boeing.

Additionally, West says Boeing still expects its long-delayed 777-9 will enter service in 2025, despite executives with two 777-9 launch customers – Emirates Airline and Lufthansa – recently predicting they might not receive the jets until 2026.