Boeing Faces Potential Delivery Delays Due to Fuselage Issue

( – In more troubling news for airplane manufacturer Boeing, delivery on about 50 nearly completed 737 jets will be delayed due to a minor quality-control issue. An unnamed worker noted that several fuselage holes were incorrectly drilled which will necessitate all of the planes in that lot to be reworked to check for errors. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in an email to employees that the issue was not an immediate safety problem and that all currently operating 737 could continue to operate.

On Friday January 5, the Boeing 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines experienced “explosive decompression” mid-flight causing the airline to ground all their planes of that model for safety inspections. This incident was already regarded as ominous as Boeing’s reputation was already shaky due to two catastrophic crashes in 2018 and 2019 of Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body passenger airplanes which left a total of 346 people dead.

After January’s midair incident, Boeing is already under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to assess their quality control both in their manufacturing and their suppliers. The mid-flight incident in January was caused by improper installation of the door plug that is used to replace unneeded doors on the hull of the plane, while the crashes in 2018 and 2019 were less clear. There were concerns over pilot error in those cases, but there were also concerns over the new flight control system on the MAX which apparently repeatedly pushed the jet’s nose down.

The current issue of improperly drilled holes is being laid at the feet of Boeing’s only 737 fuselage supplier Spirit. In his email, Deal thanked the worker who noticed the misaligned holes and notified management, which in turn caused Spirit to contact and notify Boeing of the problem. Deal says the issue will cause a delay in this shipment of jets, but otherwise should not affect their production schedule. Spirit released a statement on Sunday February 4 reassuring the public that they remain in close cooperation with Boeing over the issue.

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