Another one: Boeing 787 vertical tail fin faces safety concerns

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Throughout the past month, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has not left the spotlight, as various issues in the aircraft’s structure came to light. Now, another problem joined the list, as questions were raised about the 787’s vertical tail fin’s structure.

Much like with irregularities with the Dreamliner‘s aft fuselage shims, some 787s have un-shimmed gaps of up to 0.034 inches. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) document raised concerns that the 0.034-inch gap could result in the aircraft’s connecting joints exceeding its load capability limits, reported KOMO News.

“This issue was found in late 2019 and has already been addressed in production,” a Boeing spokesperson was quoted by KOMO News, adding in that the manufacturer continually assessed any potential manufacturing or safety issues.

Allegedly, there could be a total of 681 aircraft affected by the issue, spanning from Line Number (LN) 6 to 687, according to the FAA report. Boeing 787s from Everett, Washington, and North Charleston, South Carolina assembly sites are affected. Workers were not supposed to remove the shims before installing fasteners upon assembly, stated the FAA.

AeroTime News approached Boeing for comment.

In late-August, Boeing pulled eight Dreamliners out of service due to a risk of structural failure. At the forefront of the issue were two separate problems. One was related to shims, which were improperly manufactured, leaving improper gaps at the aft section of the fuselage, while the other issue consisted of irregularities in the inner skin of the fuselage in the same section.

The two issues separately would be of no concern, but when both are combined at the same place, it would put the 787 at risk of structural failure. On September 8, 2020, Boeing discovered its second manufacturing flaw related to the horizontal stabilizer, as parts were clamped together tighter than intended.


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