Boeing 737 MAX encounters another manufacturing quality issue

Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing discovered another manufacturing issue with the 737 MAX
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The Boeing 737 MAX and the 737 NextGeneration (NG) military derivative, the P-8 Poseidon, have been affected by another manufacturing quality issue. 

Spirit AeroSystems, a Tier 1 supplier for Boeing, confirmed that its 737 fuselages, which it ships to the planemaker from Wichita, Kansas, the United States (US), have been affected by a problem involving “elongated fastener holes on the aft pressure bulkhead”. 

“Because Spirit uses multiple suppliers for the aft pressure bulkhead, only some units are affected,” the supplier said, adding that it would continue delivering fuselages to Boeing. 

In response to the new manufacturing issue, Spirit AeroSystems said that it “has implemented changes to its manufacturing process to address this issue”. 

“We are working closely with our customer to address any impacted units within the production system and address any needed rework,” the manufacturer continued.  

Currently, Spirit AeroSystems does not anticipate any material impact on its unit delivery range due to the problem with the fastener holes. 

Meanwhile, Boeing determined there “is no immediate safety of flight concern associated with this issue for the 737 fleet and that the in-service fleet may continue to operate”. 

The manufacturing problem was first reported by The Air Current. The publication revealed that some fuselages have “hundreds of misaligned and duplicated holes”. 

Quality issues affecting 737 MAX 

This is the second manufacturing problem to affect the Boeing 737 MAX and the P-8 Poseidon. 

In April 2023, Spirit AeroSystems discovered that a “non-standard manufacturing process” was used when joining the aft fuselage and the vertical tail fittings of certain 737 MAX and P-8 Poseidon fuselages. The 737 MAX 9 was not affected.  

Shortly after, during Boeing’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, the company’s president and chief executive officer (CEO) David Calhoun said that the problem would remove around 9,000 seats from customers’ summer schedules. 

During the company’s Q2 2023 results presentation, Brian West, chief financial officer (CFO) and executive vice president of Finance at Boeing, said that the company resumed deliveries of reworked 737s, while also beginning to produce new aircraft of the type that meet the manufacturer’s specifications. 

“In light of this progress, we are now transitioning production to 38 per month and still plan to increase to 50 per month in the 2025-2026 timeframe,” West continued, adding that the priority will be the stability of the supply chain, which is why “it will take some time to consistently deliver at 38 per month off the line”. 

Still, the CFO reiterated that in 2023, Boeing is on pace to deliver between 400 and 450 aircraft. 

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