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Another Quality Control Delay Affects Boeing 787 Program

The Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner program is once again under scrutiny over a known defect on some aircraft. The manufacturer is delaying deliveries over an alignment flaw during assembly, which can lead to structural fatigue and repairs.

Delivery of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners are delayed yet again, after a previously-discovered defect was found in another part of the jet. First reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago-based company now says they are closely inspecting bodies for misalignments during the assembly process.

Problems With Misalignment The Width of a Human Hair, Which Boeing Says Isn’t a Safety Concern

According to reporting from Reuters, the issue is focused around rough spots where the composite-body fuselage is connected together. The rough patches could present a variance that can be compared to the width of a human hair. If unchecked, the issues could lead to very small gaps forming, causing premature structural fatigue.

Engineers from Boeing told The Wall Street Journal that the issues do not pose a safety hazard, but could lead to costly repairs for operators over time. The defect was originally found in the tail assembly of the aircraft, but has since been detected in other connection points as well. As a result, the company is expanding their quality control inspections to include the entire fuselage of the airframe, not just the known affected areas.

In a statement to Reuters, the Federal Aviation Administration noted that they have been in touch with Boeing about the situation. The agency noted they are continuously engaged “…with Boeing through established Continued Operational Safety and manufacturing oversight processes to appropriately address any issues that might arise.” Their statement agreed that the manufacturing concern does not represent an “immediate safety concern.”

Latest Issue Throws 787 Dreamliner Reputation Into Question

The newly discovered issue is the latest problem in a long line of quality control concerns for the company, and comes just weeks after their troubled 737 MAX was given a new airworthiness directive from the FAA. In April 2019, Boeing whistleblowers claimed their South Carolina factory was “plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight” in the assembly process of new Dreamliners. In August of the same year, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines complained the delivery of a 787-10 as part of their 100th anniversary celebration was marred with issues, including a delayed delivery date, loose seats and missing parts.

BC Shelby December 17, 2020

...and Boeing is set to move all 787 production to the South Carolina plant where these QA issues keep occurring. Always wanted to fly on one, but that interest is fading. @edgewood49: What has been going on? Accountants instead of engineers are now making all the decisions. Their plan to move 787 production out of Everett is little more than a move to duck the costs of union labour as the SC plant is nonunion. I always thought their moving the company's administration HQ 2000 miles away from the heart of their manufacturing operations was a mistake. Yeah I miss the days when Boeing was a true leader in the commercial aerospace industry and put out a quality product which earned them worldwide respect. They are now in a game of "catch-up" to rival Airbus who's 787 counterpart, the A-350, has been a success (particularly the 900 series) and they have the thin long haul market (a growing segment) covered with the A321 XLR while Boeing continues to run "hot and cold" on their NMA concept which, if launched next week, won't enter service for another five years at minimum. Interesting that in the early 1970s, Airbus was seen as a huge gamble possibly doomed to fail by some, as the consortium's first product, the A-300B, was initially met with lukewarm enthusiasm even though it was more efficient than the US built wide body trijets and capable of operating the same routes.

paj9zo December 17, 2020

Why would any airline spend millions of dollars on the garbage that Boing is putting out in South Carolina. It's not like a Ford Pinto or Chevy Chevette that will ground to a halt on the ground when the engine fails. How is Boing going to spin this mess? I'll never on a MAX or the NIGHTMARELINER.

edgewood49 December 15, 2020

Caljn yep Boeing is making it harder and harder for a taxpayer to have any sympathy for them and for the traveling public to continue to have confidence in their product. Maybe AB can private label plane for Boeing now there's thought. As ex USAF I have had my share of issue with BA and they way they do business example look how long it took them to convert the 767 to a tanker, really?

caljn December 15, 2020

edgewood49 It's kind of a metaphor for the nation at large.

edgewood49 December 15, 2020

While this is not a significant issue into itself but coupled with everything else going on at Boeing one still has to ask " what the hell is going on at Boeing?" Sad to see a once revered airline manufacture tank.