DALLAS – The Boeing 737 MAX is facing fresh turbulence after the US manufacturer announced a defect in a part supplied by Spirit AeroSystems. The new issue looks set to create more delivery delays for airline customers.
Boeing said that Spirit AeroSystems had highlighted issues with two of the fittings which join the rear fuselage to the aircraft’s tail. These fittings are on the 737-7, 737-8, 737-8-200 and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The 737-9 is unaffected as a different supplier provides the parts. The problem is believed to date back to 2019, and the plane maker is currently working to determine the number of airframes impacted.
Safe to Fly
However, in an official statement, Boeing said that the defect “is not an immediate safety of flight issue, and the in-service fleet can continue operating safely.”
Spirit is now working with Boeing to develop an inspection and repair process for affected airframes. It said it had notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is now expected to issue an airworthiness directive to oversee inspection and repairs. The FAA added that it was happy with the “facts and data” presented to them and that it was content that there was “no immediate safety issue.”
The news comes as a blow to Boeing, which has recently seen a surge in orders for the beleaguered airliner. It was planning on delivering 400 MAXs this year and hoped to increase production from 31 to 38 airframes per month by June to clear the backlog of 3,562 MAXs.
Boeing said that the issues “will likely affect a significant number of undelivered 737 MAX airplanes, both in production and in storage,” and that it now expects “lower near-term 737 MAX deliveries while this required work is completed.”
“We will follow our normal process in determining what action, if any, will be required for the in-service fleet,” it added.
Just over a month ago, the FAA allowed Boeing to restart delivery of its 787 Dreamliners. The agency had raised issues over data analysis errors concerning the jet’s forward pressure bulkhead. This forced the manufacturer to pause deliveries from January 26 until March.
Featured Image: Boeing Company Boeing 737-7 MAX (N7201S). Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways.