Boeing faces additional challenges as it discovers new issues with the fuselages of approximately 50 undelivered 737 jets. The aircraft manufacturer announced that incorrectly drilled holes were identified in the fuselage, prompting the need for rework on the affected planes. The problem was communicated to Boeing by an undisclosed supplier, emphasizing that the holes didn’t meet the company’s specifications. While Boeing assures that it’s not an immediate flight safety concern, this development raises further questions about the company’s quality control measures and those of its suppliers.
Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing’s commercial plane unit, addressed the matter in a memo to employees, assuring that the existing 737 fleet can continue to operate safely. However, the setback adds to Boeing’s recent challenges, particularly since January 5 when a panel on a 737 Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines blew out during a flight, resulting in an emergency landing and subsequent grounding of Max 9s in the United States.
Boeing’s fuselage supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, acknowledged that an employee identified the mis-drilled holes and reported the issue to a manager. The company, however, has not provided additional comments on the matter.
Quality concerns at Boeing have gained heightened attention following reports, including one from The New York Times, revealing that Boeing workers had previously opened and reinstalled the panel that blew off the Alaska Airlines plane. This incident, coupled with the emergency landing, has intensified regulatory scrutiny, investor concerns, and impacted Boeing’s relationships with airline customers.
In response to the latest fuselage issues, Boeing plans to dedicate several “factory days” at its Seattle-based facility to address the problems and complete pending work on the affected 737s. These factory days allow teams to pause regular production activities to focus on specific tasks without interrupting the overall production flow. The company emphasizes its commitment to a meticulous approach, prioritizing quality control over financial performance, as seen in its recent decision to withhold a full-year financial forecast.
This series of challenges poses a considerable test for Boeing as it navigates through ongoing regulatory inquiries, ensuring the safety and reliability of its aircraft, while simultaneously addressing concerns regarding quality control within its operations and supply chain.