According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, supplier of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft components Spirit AeroSystems has discovered mis-drilled holes on the fuselages of 50 planes in production for the aircraft company.
Disclosed on 4 February, the defect is the latest in a series originating with Boeing’s former aerostructures unit. In 2023, a drilling fault on an aft pressure bulkhead supplied by Spirit slowed deliveries of the 737 MAX, the plane maker’s most important cash flow source. Earlier in the year, a separate issue with tail-fin fittings impacted output.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an employee of Spirit AeroSystems – creators of the fuselage, nacelles, and struts for various Boeing aircraft – warned their manager of the holes while the 737 MAX planes were in production.
In a statement to Business Insider, a representative for Spirit AeroSystems said: “Once notified, we began immediate actions to identify and implement appropriate repair solutions. We are in close communication with Boeing on this matter.”
The latest manufacturing issue will require rework of around 50 undelivered 737 jets to repair the faulty rivet holes, said Boeing Commercial chief Stan Deal in a staff memo, seen by Bloomberg News.
Deal warned that the extra time required for inspections and repair work could delay near-term plane deliveries. However, he did not confirm whether action would be required on the in-service 737 fleet.
After a series of manufacturing errors and last month’s near-catastrophic panel blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stepped up scrutiny of Boeing’s manufacturing and supplier systems, capping 737 productions until quality improves.