The production of the 737 Max and 787 by the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has long been plagued by electrical and other problems. Delivery of the Dreamliner was only resumed in March after a long interruption due to manufacturing defects. Now there are problems again.
A new production problem has apparently emerged with the Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner. This will likely further delay the delivery of the popular wide-body aircraft, said people familiar with the matter.
Boeing expects the newly discovered defect will take at least three weeks to fix, some of these people say. That means customers may not receive new Dreamliners for much of the traditionally busy summer travel season.
Production likely to slow down
Boeing stopped delivering Dreamliners to airlines in late May after US flight safety regulators rejected the aircraft manufacturer’s proposed method of checking the jets for previously known manufacturing defects. It was the second such break in the past year. It wasn’t immediately clear how the current delivery freeze would affect Boeing’s Dreamliner production, but a person familiar with the matter said the company is expected to slow down its previously announced monthly production of five aircraft, while it concerns the quality problems.
Boeing declined to comment. The Federal Aviation Administration FAA announced that the newly discovered quality issue does not pose an immediate safety threat. While the agency will decide whether to require modifications to the 787 aircraft that are already in service, the FAA said, “Boeing is committed to repairing these aircraft before deliveries resume.”
Current delivery stop after a five-month delivery break
The current Dreamliner delivery stop follows an earlier five-month delivery pause from last autumn to this spring. This resulted in a traffic jam of around 100 aircraft by the end of April, many of which Boeing hoped to deliver by the end of the year. The delivery freeze was another setback for the aerospace giant, which has faced various issues in its commercial, defense and space programs over the past few years.
It also chokes off an important source of money as Boeing attempts to weather the double crisis that resulted from two fatal crashes of its 737 Max aircraft in late 2018 and early 2019, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on aircraft demand.
New problem “near the nose” More on the topic
The new problem emerged on a part of the aircraft known as the forward pressure bulkhead at the front of the aircraft, said people familiar with the matter. It affects the outer skin of the aircraft and is similar to a previously known problem that occurred elsewhere on the Dreamliner, one of those people said. It came up as part of the FAA review of Boeing’s quality controls on newly produced, undelivered aircraft, the person said. The FAA announced on Monday that the problem is “near the nose of certain 787 Dreamliners in the company’s inventory.”
The new issue has not raised any immediate safety concerns, but engineers at Boeing and the FAA are trying to understand the potential of the defect to cause premature fatigue on a key part of the aircraft structure, said people familiar with the matter. In late May, Boeing again halted shipments of the Dreamliner after the FAA rejected the aircraft manufacturer’s proposed method of using a mixture of analysis and physical inspections to check newly produced Dreamliners for quality issues. The agency asked for more data to support Boeing’s proposal.