The Hamilton Spectator

Boeing grapples with new 737 issue

Deliveries could be delayed as supplier flags misdrilled holes in fuselages

- DAVID KOENIG

Boeing discovered another problem in some of its 737 Max fuselages that may delay deliveries of about 50 planes in the latest quality gaffe to plague the giant aircraft manufactur­er.

Boeing said late Sunday that an employee of a supplier alerted managers about improperly drilled holes.

The head of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division said some planes that have not yet been delivered to airlines will need to be reworked, but he said the issue did not affect the safety of Max jetliners that are already flying.

The revelation of new quality issues involving Boeing planes came as another leading airline executive took aim at the manufactur­er.

The president of Emirates, a major internatio­nal airline based in Dubai, told the Financial Times he has seen “progressiv­e decline” in Boeing standards, which he blames on management mistakes — including putting financial performanc­e over engineerin­g excellence.

“They have got to instil this safety culture which is second to none,” Tim Clark told the newspaper. “They’ve got to get their manufactur­ing processes under review so there are no corners cut, etc. I’m sure (Boeing CEO) Dave Calhoun and Stan Deal (chief of Boeing’s commercial-airplanes division) are on that … this is the last chance saloon.”

Clark is the latest industry executive to criticize Boeing, adding to pressure on Calhoun, who became CEO after Dennis Muilenburg was fired during the fallout from two deadly crashes involving Max 8 planes. In all, 346 people were killed.

The latest quality issue involves two holes that were incorrectl­y drilled in the window frames of some Max jets.

The problem was reported by Spirit AeroSystem­s, a major supplier that provides Boeing with fuselages for the Max.

“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 a letter to employees.

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, Ore.

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

The NTSB is expected to issue a preliminar­y report on the Alaska Airlines blowout this week.

The president of Emirates, a major internatio­nal airline based in Dubai, told the Financial Times he has seen “progressiv­e decline” in Boeing standards, which he blames on management mistakes

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