ARLINGTON, Virginia: On February 4, Boeing said that after its supplier Spirit AeroSystems discovered two mis-drilled holes on some fuselages, the deliveries of some of 50 new 737 MAX airplanes could potentially be delayed.
The U.S. plane maker confirmed the findings after an "edge margin" or spacing problem had been found in holes drilled on a window frame on some jets.
Under intense pressure from regulators and airlines since the blowout of a door plug on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 on January 5, Boeing said safety was unaffected, and existing 737s could keep flying.
In a letter to staff referring to Spirit, which is the only 737 fuselage supplier, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said, "This past Thursday, a supplier notified us of a non-conformance in some 737 fuselages. I want to thank an employee at the supplier who flagged to his manager that two holes may not have been drilled exactly to our requirements."
"While this potential condition is not an immediate flight safety issue and all 737s can continue operating safely, we currently believe we will have to perform rework on about 50 undelivered airplanes," Deal added.
In an interview with Reuters, Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino said that as part of its 360-degree quality management program, a member of its team identified an issue that did not conform to engineering standards.
"We are in close communication with Boeing on this matter," Buccino said.
"Boeing plans to devote several factory days this week at the Renton 737 plant outside Seattle to work on the mis-aligned holes and finish off other outstanding work. Such days allow teams to pause normal work and attend to specific tasks without shutting production," Deal said.
After the blowout on an Alaska Airlines plane again forced the spotlight on quality, the move is the latest effort by Boeing to tighten its operations.