Boeing Laments 'Only Course of Action' After Latest Flub

Deliveries may be delayed after supplier finds faulty drilled holes in fuselage of Max 9 jets
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2024 12:30 PM CST
More Bad News for Boeing May Lead to Delivery Delays
A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle on Sept. 30, 2020.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

As Boeing tries to stanch the bleeding after a plethora of recent problems, there's a new issue to contend with. An employee with Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures fuselages for Boeing, made an unsettling discovery last week: badly drilled holes on some of the airplane bodies that Spirit was making, a find that Boeing says could cause delays of more than four dozen aircraft, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a Sunday letter to staff, Stan Deal, CEO of the Boeing Commercial Airlines division, said the "nonconformance" was found on Thursday, which he described as "two holes [that] may not have been drilled exactly to our requirements."

Deal noted that although "this potential condition is not an immediate flight safety issue" for planes currently in operation, "we currently believe we will have to perform rework on about 50 undelivered airplanes." He said this move was unavoidable, adding: "This is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time." Deal didn't mention Spirit specifically, but he noted in his memo that "we recently instructed a major supplier to hold shipments until all jobs have been completed to specification." Sources tell the Journal that Deal was referring to Spirit.

The AP notes that, following Deal's letter, Boeing shares fell 3%, on top of a 20% drop already in 2024, at Monday's opening bell. Boeing's equipment woes have angered airline executives and have come more under the microscope after an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 jet was forced to make an emergency landing last month after a panel blew off the side of the plane following takeoff from Portland, Oregon. A Spirit fuselage was also involved in that incident, though it appeared to be caused by Boeing workers neglecting to install critical bolts to hold the panel in place. (More Boeing stories.)

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