Boeing says inspections of Dreamliner jets are slowing down deliveries

Boeing is taking longer to deliver its 787 Dreamliner jets after discovering manufacturing defects in the planes that are under federal investigation, the company said Tuesday.

Boeing said it told the Federal Aviation Administration about two flaws it found in certain “aftbody fuselage sections” of the wide-body plane that, when combined, create a condition that falls short of the company’s design standards.

The Chicago-based planemaker is inspecting finished Dreamliners for any problems before they’re delivered to customers — a process that’s slowing down deliveries, according to Boeing.

“We are taking time to thoroughly inspect completed 787s to ensure that they are free of the issues and meet all engineering specifications prior to delivery,” Boeing said in a statement. “We expect these inspections to affect the timing of 787 deliveries in the near-term.”

Reported faults in the body of the plane prompted regulators to consider mandating inspections that could cover up to some 900 of the roughly 1,000 Dreamliners that Boeing has delivered since 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

In a statement, the FAA confirmed that it’s investigating manufacturing flaws affecting the 787s but added that it was too soon to say whether inspections would be required.

“It is too early to speculate about the nature or extent of any proposed airworthiness directives that might arise from the agency’s investigation,” the agency said.

The flaws are just the latest bump in the road for Boeing, which is still trying to return its troubled 737 MAX jet to service following two crashes that killed 346 people. The planemaker has also grappled in recent months with the coronavirus pandemic’s dire impact on the air travel industry.

Boeing found that some of the Dreamliner jets have improperly sized shims — material that fills gaps between parts of the plane — and some have areas that don’t meet the company’s “skin flatness specifications,” it said in a statement.

The company said it identified eight planes that had both problems and needed repairs before they could continue flying. Boeing notified the airlines that operate the planes and they have been removed from service until they can be fixed, according to the company.

“Safety and quality are Boeing’s highest priorities; we are taking the appropriate steps to resolve these issues and prevent them from happening again,” Boeing said in a statement.

Boeing shares tumbled as much as 6.1 percent to $160.50 Tuesday morning and were recently off about 4.7 percent at $163.00.

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