Boeing to delay some 787 deliveries after finding new glitch
The Washington Post June 6, 2023
Boeing will delay deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner after uncovering flawed parts in recent days, a setback as the plane maker works to meet soaring demand for its long-range aircraft.
Boeing officials said the flaw may affect about 90 already-built Dreamliners that have not yet delivered, as well as a handful of planes on its final assembly line in North Charleston, S.C. Each aircraft will be inspected for improperly sized shims that fill gaps within the horizontal stabilizer, a tiny wing attached to a jet’s tail.
The issue rattled investors who have endured a series of production mishaps at the U.S. plane maker. Boeing had to shut down Dreamliner shipments for the better part of two years, and it is still working through a supplier defect affecting hundreds of its 737 Max jets. Just last week, Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said that, with suppliers, the bumps in the road “are getting lower, smaller.”
Boeing stock reversed gains on the news, falling as much as 3.9% on Tuesday. Shares of several aircraft parts suppliers also declined.
Ironing out the production issues is crucial for Boeing’s cash flow and Calhoun’s mission to work down a $55 billion debt load that piled up during the pandemic and the global grounding of its 737 Max after two fatal crashes.
In the near-term, Boeing’s latest production glitch may exacerbate a shortage of new aircraft during the busy summer travel season as airlines struggle to keep up with a post-pandemic jump in air travel.
The U.S. plane maker and its rival, Airbus, have been contending with supplier and labor strains that are crimping their ability to ramp up production.
Dreamliner production will not be halted, Boeing officials said, adding that the company still expects to deliver between 70 and 80 of its marquee wide-body aircraft this year. Plans to raise production rates to five jets a month by year-end haven’t changed. The next horizontal stabilizers to be shipped from the plane maker’s Salt Lake City factory will be built with shims that meet Boeing’s engineering specifications.
Boeing and U.S. regulators are also determining if they need to take any action for 787 jets currently in service. The flawed parts are not considered an immediate safety or flight issue by the Federal Aviation Administration and will not require emergency repairs for Dreamliners already in commercial service, Boeing officials said.
Boeing is looking to increase output of the Dreamliner to a 10-jet monthly pace by mid-decade, a goal that is crucial to meeting Calhoun’s target of generating $10 billion in cash by 2025 or 2026.