Boeing has found itself in the midst of yet another production issue, as it announced on Sunday that it is reworking 50 undelivered 737 MAX jets after a supplier’s employee found mis-drilled holes in some fuselages. This marks the latest in a string of quality concerns for the airplane manufacturer, and could potentially result in delays in future deliveries.
The supplier responsible for the fuselages in question is Spirit AeroSystems, which has faced scrutiny in the past for other quality issues that have affected 737 MAX jets. In response to the discovery of the mis-drilled holes, Boeing has stated that it is finalizing instructions for the reworking process and will determine how long it will take in the coming days. The company also noted that existing 737s are able to continue flying while the issue is being addressed.
Boeing’s commercial chief Stan Deal addressed the situation in a memo to staff, saying that “this is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time.” He also clarified that the employee who discovered the issue had promptly alerted his manager to two mis-drilled holes. Deal stated that the delays caused by the reworking process will allow the company to thoroughly inspect and fix any potential problems.
A spokesperson for Spirit AeroSystems stated that the company is aware of the issue and is working closely with Boeing to address it. This is not the first time that Spirit’s work has resulted in production delays for 737 MAX jets. Last year, mis-drilled holes on the aft bulkhead of some jets led to similar issues.
Boeing has been under increased regulatory scrutiny after a door plug unexpectedly blew out of an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight last month. The incident, which also involved a Spirit fuselage, resulted in an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. While there have been a few other issues involving Spirit’s work on 737 MAX jets, this was the first to result in an in-flight incident.
The blowout incident has sparked concerns from both industry officials and investors about the strictness of Boeing’s internal quality control. It has also raised questions about the efficiency of Spirit’s processes and the thoroughness of their workers.
In response, Boeing executives have promised a thorough review of their manufacturing practices in an effort to eliminate any defects.
Last week, Boeing announced that it would not be setting financial targets for the year, instead choosing to focus their efforts on improving the quality of their products. This decision has only heightened concerns about potential production delays and their impact on the company’s financial performance.
Boeing’s recent instruction to a major supplier to halt shipments until all parts meet requirements believed to be Spirit by people familiar with the situation may also contribute to future delays.
As the investigation into the door plug incident continues and Boeing works to address the issue of mis-drilled holes, the company is facing increased pressure to ensure that its manufacturing processes are up to the highest standards. The public and industry officials will be watching closely to see how Boeing addresses these concerns and works to improve the quality of their 737 MAX jets.