Boeing’s headaches are moving from its 737 jets to its Dreamliner 787 model. The aviation manufacturer admitted on Thursday that some titanium components designed for the 787 were improperly manufactured over the past three years.
“While our investigation is ongoing, we have determined that this does not present an immediate safety of flight concern for the active in-service fleet,” the company said. Nonetheless, it has notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just to make sure everything is on the up and up.
Those titanium parts were manufactured for Boeing by a third-party supplier -- Italy-based Leonardo SpA. That company, in turn, purchased the items from Brindisi-based Manufacturing Processes Specification (MPS). In a statement, Leonardo says MPS was a qualified Boeing supplier -- one it’s no longer working with.
The components in question include fittings designed to secure the floor beam in one section of the fuselage, as well as fittings, spacers, brackets, and clips in other areas of the plane.
Finding the aircraft with suspect components
Boeing said any undelivered planes will be modified to specifications, and any 787 that’s currently in service will go through a review process with Boeing first. After that, the aircraft will have to receive the all-clear from the FAA.
The company is working to determine how many planes contain the defective part, but that could take some time because there are an estimated 864 Dreamliners currently in service. Most of those are flown by All Nippon Airways (74) and United Airlines (60). Other carriers that have the planes in their fleets include Japan Airlines (47), American Airlines (45), Etihad Airways (39), Hainan Airlines (38), Air Canada (37), Qatar Airways (37), British Airways (32), and Air India (27).
Boeing says it’s got its act together now
The last few years have been anything but good for Boeing. Not only did it suffer credibility issues over widespread problems with its 737 Max planes, but the 787 has had its own share of issues.
In 2019, it was rated as one of the safest aircraft in the sky, only to have whistleblowers question its safety months later. In 2020, Boeing announced that three separate flaws found on its 787 Dreamliner aircraft may require further inspections to check for safety.
In Boeing’s mind, that was then and this is now. The company claims it has its act back on the right path. “When issues are raised, that is an indication that these efforts are working,” the company said.