Boeing Grapples with 737 MAX Setback: Mis-Drilled Holes Prompt Potential Delays

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Boeing Faces Setback as Mis-Drilled Holes Discovered in 737 MAX Fuselages

On Sunday, Boeing announced that it would need to address an issue on approximately 50 undelivered 737 MAX aircraft, potentially causing delays in near-term deliveries. The problem arose after supplier Spirit AeroSystems identified two mis-drilled holes on certain fuselages. Confirming the findings in response to Reuters, Boeing clarified that the issue involved an “edge margin” or spacing problem in holes drilled on a window frame.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal expressed gratitude to the supplier for promptly flagging the non-conformance. While emphasizing that the matter does not pose an immediate flight safety concern, Deal acknowledged the need for rework on about 50 undelivered airplanes.

Spirit AeroSystems spokesperson Joe Buccino stated that the issue was identified through their comprehensive quality management program, ensuring communication with Boeing on the matter.

Boeing plans to allocate several “factory days” at the Renton 737 plant this week to address the mis-aligned holes and complete outstanding work. The extent of rework time is yet to be determined.

This development follows Boeing’s ongoing efforts to enhance operational efficiency, particularly in quality controls, following recent concerns about an Alaska Airlines jet. Investigators examining potential issues with bolts on the Alaska Airlines door plug are expected to release an interim report this week.

Boeing reassured that parts meeting specifications will continue to be shipped, and the delay in shipment, while affecting production schedules, aims to enhance overall quality and stability.

Amidst these challenges, the U.S. regulator has directed Boeing to maintain 737 production at the current rate of 38 jets per month. Boeing has urged suppliers to intensify checks and meet quality requirements, emphasizing the imperative nature of compliance. Boeing and Spirit are yet to finalize agreements on addressing the mis-drilled holes.

Spirit AeroSystems, originally spun off from Boeing in 2005, is scheduled to unveil earnings on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris and Valerie Insinna in Washington; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Tom Hogue, Gerry Doyle, and Jamie Freed)

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