Boeing Inspecting Dreamliner Wings for Cracks

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Boeing is inspecting the carbon fiber composite wings of 787 Dreamliners for potential hairline cracks that are due to a change in the way the wings are manufactured. The inspections of 42 planes started a few weeks ago after the airplane maker was notified of the problem by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which makes the wings in Japan. "We have been notified by our supplier MHI that a change in their manufacturing process may have led to hairline cracks in a limited number of shear ties on a wing rib in the 787. This condition may be present in a limited number of airplanes still in production," said Doug Alder with Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing says potential wing cracks do not exist in any of the 123 Dreamliners that have been delivered and are currently in service.

The company says it takes one to two weeks to fix those wings where cracks are found. The repair involves applying a piece of carbon fiber material to the area in question. So far, the company says it has not had to completely replace any wings of the 42 Dreamliners being inspected. "We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it, and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplanes. We are addressing affected airplanes as required. We expect no impact to 2014 delivery guidance," Alder said. Boeing recently increased production of the Dreamliner to 10 per month but has been wrestling with manufacturing issues as it gets its Dreamliner assembly line in Charleston, S.C., up to speed.