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Boeing continues to locate fuselage defects in Dreamliners

written by Hannah Dowling | December 15, 2020

787-8 Dreamliner. Image – Boeing (1)liner

Boeing has continued to find defects in the fuselage of its undelivered 787 Dreamliner jets, noting it has found the same defect as previously identified in other parts of the jet.

The US planemaker continues to conduct quality inspections on its assembled Dreamliners, and has now said the same flaw reported in the jet’s fuselage earlier this year has now been found in other areas of the aircraft.

Boeing has said the defect pertains to some areas where fuselage segments were joined, with these joins potentially not being as smooth as required.

The engineering specifications at issue are roughly equivalent to the width of a human hair, the company noted.

Boeing also said the problem does not pose an imminent safety hazard.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Monday that it “continuously engages with Boeing through established Continued Operational Safety and manufacturing oversight processes to appropriately address any issues that might arise.”

An FAA official told the media that “none of the issues raised recently are considered to be immediate safety concerns”, adding that it “takes these quality concerns seriously and continues to be involved in the discussions about any mitigations”.

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The planemaker said earlier this month that defect airframe inspections on its undelivered 787s were taking longer than anticipated, hampering its ability to deliver jets to customers through to December.

The delays have led to Boeing retaining a stockpile of 56 jets.

In August, Boeing grounded eight of its 787 Dreamliners after it reportedly found “two distinct manufacturing issues” affecting the fuselage of the aircraft.

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According to Boeing, the issues were located in the joint of sections towards the rear end of the widebody aircraft, and all affected jets “must be inspected and repaired prior to continued operation”.

In total, at least four 787 manufacturing faults have been brought to light over the last number of months.

This includes two issues in the fuselage of the aircraft, one in its horizontal stabiliser and, most recently, an issue present on its vertical tail fin.

Manufacturing issues have now been linked to two Boeing Dreamliner plants, one in Salt Lake, Utah, and the other in Charleston, South Carolina.

Further, in September, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) for owners and operators of the Boeing 787, warning of a possible failure in the aircraft’s autopilot system when utilised on landing.

The SAIB served to encourage owners and operators of the 787 Dreamliner to ensure pilots and cabin crew are fully aware of the issue with the aircraft’s autopilot system on ILS landing.

Specifically, the SAIB noted that the autopilot flight director system was “not providing proper guidance to capture the localiser when intercepting the localiser at large angles (40 degrees or more) from the runway and beam centerline”.

The fault was essentially causing the aircraft to deviate from the runway centerline, and descent on the wrong heading.

The notice came after a number of incidents involving Boeing 787 ILS approaches in Hong Kong, in which Dreamliners descended below the specified safe minimum altitude.

It was believed at the time that the terrain around the airport was resulting in the false or railed localiser signal captures.

2 Comments

  • Douglas Green

    says:

    “…ensure pilots and cabin crew are fully aware of the issue with the aircraft’s autopilot system on ILS landing.“

    I wonder how cabin crew awareness is relevant.

  • Bernard

    says:

    Really disappointed to hear 787 problems. I hope it won’t become a ‘comet’ of the 1950s. Those parked quad engine jets may still be needed in the end.

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