Potential delay looms for 737 MAX deliveries as Boeing discovers fuselage issue

Boeing has announced further delays in deliveries of its 737 MAX aircraft due to a manufacturing error discovered in 50 undelivered planes.

Inside the factory of the Boeing 737 MAX in Renton, Washington. Photo by AFP via JIJI Press.

The issue, identified by major supplier Spirit AeroSystems during a routine inspection, involves misdrilled holes in the aft fuselage near the vertical tail stabilizer of select models in the 737 MAX family of airplanes.

Concerns arose during the pre-delivery inspection that certain components attached to the fuselage did not meet the necessary installation standards, posing a potential risk of non-conformance to required specifications.

While Boeing assures the issue does not pose immediate safety concerns for in-service aircraft, it necessitates rework on the affected planes, potentially impacting airlines eagerly awaiting deliveries.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Stan Deal, told employees in a letter shared to the media:

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.

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems are working jointly to address the issue and minimize disruptions, prioritizing safety throughout the process. The exact timeline and financial implications of the delay remain unclear.

The development comes amidst Boeing's recovery from several crises that began when critical flaws in its 737 MAX led to two deadly crashes. These crashes were caused by critical issues on the 737 MAX's flight control software.

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems are currently under intense scrutiny due to an in-flight incident involving the blowout of a door plug on one of their 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The said aircraft was being operated by Alaska Airlines and was forced to make an emergency landing after the incident occurred.

{getCard} $type={post} $title={Related story}

The incident led to the grounding of 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 globally after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered a more rigorous inspection of these aircraft, focusing on re-checking the attachment of these door plugs.

However, airlines have already started returning affected aircraft into service following their exhaustive maintenance checks. Copa Airlines was the first airline to operate a commercial 737 MAX 9 flight post-grounding.

{getCard} $type={post} $title={Related story}

The FAA has declined Boeing's request to increase production of the 737 MAX until the American planemaker has resolved all quality control issues in its production lines.

Source: FlightGlobal, The Associated Press, Business Insider