Boeing has grounded eight of its 787 Dreamliners after it reportedly found “two distinct manufacturing issues” affecting the fuselage of the aircraft, the latest in a long list of troubles for the Chicago-based planemaker.
According to Boeing, the issues were located in the joint of sections towards the rear end of the wide-body aircraft, and all affected jets “must be inspected and repaired prior to continued operation”.
“We immediately contacted the airlines that operate the eight affected airplanes to notify them of the situation and the airplanes have been temporarily removed from service until they can be repaired,” a Boeing spokesman said.
The company said it is now conducting a thorough review into the root cause of the problem, and has alerted the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the matter.
The FAA acknowledged that it has been made aware of the problem with the Dreamliner and noted it “continues to engage with Boeing” on the matter, however there has been no mention on if the regulator will issue a wider safety bulletin to operators on the problem.
Boeing did not confirm which airlines were affected by the grounding order, however both United Airlines and Singapore Airlines have confirmed that they both have at least one of the affected Dreamliners in their respective fleets.
Further, both airlines said that the affected planes were not in service when the problem was discovered, having already been grounded due to the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on global air travel demand.
Air Canada is rumoured to also have been affected by the Dreamliner fuselage issues, however has not confirmed to the media if this is true.
There are around 1,000 Boeing 787s that have been delivered to 69 different airlines around the world since the very first 787 was delivered to ANA in 2011.
The new fuselage issue joins a long list of problems for the planemaker, most notably in regard to its ongoing recertification battle over the 737 MAX, which has been grounded since March 2019 following two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.
The Dreamliner was similarly grounded around the world in 2013 following reports of fires in its lithium battery, however the plane has faced little issues since.
The manufacturer, much like the rest of the global aviation sector, also continues to reel from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on demand.