Another Issue with the 737 MAX Fuselages Discovered by Boeing

A supplier's employee detected misdrilled holes in several fuselages, causing Boeing to repair 50 undelivered 737 MAX jets. Spirit AeroSystems, which has been involved in 737 quality difficulties, provided the fuselages, and an employee reported the issue. Monday saw Spirit shares fall. It releases quarterly earnings Tuesday.

Boeing said the problem may delay certain deliveries but that existing 737s can fly. “This is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time,” Boeing commercial head Stan Deal wrote to staff on Sunday.

Boeing said it is completing repair instructions and will know the duration in the coming days. Deal said the employee told his management two holes may not have been drilled per the jet maker's specifications. He said delays will allow the corporation to assess and remedy issues.

Spirit informed Boeing last week and found no flight-safety problem, a spokeswoman said. Spirit is looking into engineering options but will keep shipping fuselages with additional inspections and fixes. Spirit's misdrilled holes on MAX planes' aft bulkheads delayed manufacturing last year.

Spirit flagged variations are common. Boeing may find more issues by examining its production procedures.

Boeing is under further regulatory scrutiny after Alaska Airlines' door plug blew out last month. After a series of supplier difficulties, none of which caused in-flight mishaps, the Spirit fuselage incident occurred. In the accident, Boeing and industry officials suspect personnel failed to tighten the door plug bolts during manufacture.

Deal said that Boeing just ordered a key supplier to suspend shipments until all parts satisfy specifications, which would delay manufacturing. Spirit was the provider, according to sources.

Boeing executives will inspect production processes and eliminate flaws. The corporation announced last week that it will not establish budgetary goals for the year to improve quality. Investors and airline customers, who are short on planes, worry that Boeing's operational improvements and increased scrutiny might hinder delivery.