New issue at Boeing supplier might delay deliveries of 737s


Boeing reported another problem with fuselages on its 737 jets that might delay deliveries of about 50 aircraft in the latest quality gaffe to plague the manufacturer.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a letter to Boeing staff seen by CBS News Monday that a worker at its supplier discovered mis-drilled holes in fuselages. Spirit AeroSystems, based in Wichita, Kansas, makes a large part of the fuselages on Boeing Max jets.

“While this potential condition is not an immediate safety issue and all 737s can continue operating safely, we currently believe we will have to perform rework on about 50 undelivered planes,” Deal said in the letter to employees shared with the media.

“While this issue could delay some near-term 737 deliveries, this is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time,” he added. “The days we are setting aside in the 737 program will allow time for our teams to complete the inspections and, if needed, perform the necessary rework.”

The problem was discovered by an employee of the supplier of the fuselages who notified his manager that two holes might have not been drilled according to specifications, Deal said.

Joe Buccino, a Spirit AeroSystems spokesperson, told CBS News, “We are aware of the non-conformance issue. Once we’ve determined the appropriate solution, we will implement repairs. We are in close communication with Boeing on this matter.”  

Flying on a Boeing 737 Max 9? Here’s what to know.

Both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems are facing intense scrutiny over the quality of their work after an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 was forced to make an emergency landing on Jan. 5 when a panel called a door plug blew out of the side of the plane shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon.

The NTSB is investigating the accident, while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether Boeing and its suppliers followed quality-control procedures.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the only other U.S. airline flying the Max 9, reported finding loose hardware in door plugs of other planes they inspected after the accident. The FAA grounded all Max 9s in the U.S. the day after the blowout. Two weeks later, the agency approved the inspection and maintenance process to return the planes to flying.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have begun returning some to service.

Boeing, based in Renton, Washington, said last week it was withdrawing a request for a safety exemption needed to certify a new, smaller model of the 737 Max airliner. Boeing asked federal regulators late last year to allow delivery of its 737 Max 7 airliner to customers even though it does not meet a safety standard designed to prevent part of the engine housing from overheating and breaking off during flight.



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