Boeing encounters more problems with 737 Max, which risks delaying deliveries


Boeing said a new problem with the fuselages of some unfinished 737 planes would force the company to rework about 50 planes, potentially delaying their delivery and raising further quality control concerns for the manufacturer and its suppliers.

Stan Deal, chief executive of Boeing's commercial aircraft unit, said in a note to employees Sunday that a supplier had identified last week that “two holes may not have been drilled exactly to our requirements.” He did not name the supplier.

The issue “was not an immediate flight safety issue and all 737s can continue to operate safely,” Deal said. He added that all 737s currently in use could continue to fly.

The new problems were another setback for Boeing, which has been under pressure from regulators, investors and its airline customers since Jan. 5, when a panel on a 737 Max 9 plane operated by Alaska Airlines exploded mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing. and the grounding of Max 9 in the United States.

Boeing's airframe supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, confirmed to Reuters that one of his employees had discovered two poorly drilled holes in some fuselages and alerted a manager. Spirit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Quality concerns at Boeing and its suppliers have taken on new urgency following the news, including a report in The New York Times, discovered that Boeing workers had opened and reinstalled the panel that flew off the Alaska Airlines plane. Last week, the company declined to provide a full-year financial forecast as scheduled, an indication that the company is trying to assure customers that quality control would take priority over financial performance.

Deal said Boeing would spend several “factory days” this week at the company's factory outside Seattle to fix poorly drilled holes and finish other pending work on undelivered 737s. These days allow teams to pause normal work and attend to specific tasks without shutting down production.

“This is what we mean when we say we're going slow to get it right,” Deal said.

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