New Quality Problem Further Delays Boeing 787 Deliveries

 - July 13, 2021, 9:57 AM
Boeing has struggled to deliver 787s this year due to ongoing inspections and rework related to skin flatness deficiencies and, most recently, gaps between parts of the forward pressure bulkhead. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing has found further production problems involving the 787 as it continues consultations with the FAA over documentation and process validation on the widebody, the company said Tuesday. The latest issue, discovered as part of ongoing inspections related to out-of-specification skin flatness and gaps between the fuselage sections, involves the forward pressure bulkhead. During the inspections, engineers found small gaps between two sections of the bulkhead and reported the problem to the FAA. Rework will involve removal and replacement of the component, confirmed a Boeing spokesperson. Whether or not airplanes already in service will need to undergo similar rework remains undetermined, added the spokesperson.

The issue will force the company to “reprioritize production resources for a few weeks” to support the inspection and rework. Meanwhile, the 787 production rate will temporarily fall below five per month and will gradually return to that rate within a still undetermined timeframe. As a result of that and continuing Covid-related market pressures, Boeing now expects to deliver fewer than half of the 100 or so 787s currently in inventory this year rather than the “vast majority” it previously promised.

Boeing issued the statement in a release about second-quarter delivery totals in which it reported shipping 79 airplanes, including 12 Dreamliners.

In its own statement, the FAA confirmed the general location of the most recent discovery.

“The FAA is aware of a manufacturing quality issue near the nose on certain 787 Dreamliners in the company’s inventory of undelivered airplanes,” it said. “This issue was discovered as part of the ongoing system-wide inspection of Boeing’s 787 shimming processes required by the FAA. Although the issue poses no immediate threat to flight safety, Boeing has committed to fixing these airplanes before resuming deliveries. Based on data, the FAA will determine whether similar modifications should be made on 787s already in commercial service.”

Boeing halted Dreamliner shipments late last year and eventually managed to deliver two by the end of the first quarter this year. It delivered another 12 through late May, when it again had to suspend shipments due to an FAA request for further documentation related to the quality problems.