Boeing Finds More Problems with 737 Max, Risking Delivery Delays


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

Stan Deal, the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial plane unit, said in a memo to employees on Sunday that a supplier last wee had identified that “two holes may not have been drilled exactly to our requirements.” It did not name the supplier.

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

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 jet operated by Alaska Airlines blew out mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing and the grounding of Max 9s in the United States.

Boeing’s fuselage supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, confirmed to Reuters that one of its employees had discovered two mis-drilled holes on 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 after news accounts, including a report in The New York Times, found that Boeing workers had opened and reinstalled the panel that blew 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 precedence over financial performance.

Mr. Deal said that Boeing would devote several “factory days” this week at the company’s factory outside Seattle to address the mis-drilled holes and finish other outstanding work on the undelivered 737s. Such days allow teams to pause normal work and attend to specific tasks without shutting production.

“This is what we mean when we say that we will go slow to get it right,” Mr. Deal said.

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