Boeing Fixes Structural Flaw On 787 Dreamliner

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Boeing announced Thursday that it has corrected the structural flaw located at the wing/fuselage joint that was discovered during testing, and applied the fix to the first of its 787 jetliners, but that doesn't mean the jet is ready for prime time. The fix applies 34 reinforced fittings that will this month (November) be tested on a static airframe prior to Boeing's resumption of preflight preparations. Boeing still hopes to showcase the airliner's first flight before year's end. Boeing isolated the joint problem in computer modeling that showed high loads at the fuselage end of stringers running inside the upper wing skins, 17 per side. Then, ground testing revealed composite delamination at the stress points. The new fix reinforces the attach points at the joint where the stringers connect to points in the fuselage. Boeing has postponed first flight and delivery dates five times, according to the Chicago Tribune, putting it more than two years behind its original schedule and contributing (along with the worldwide recession) to the cancellation of orders. Boeing has won orders this year, but not as many as it has lost.

This year, Boeing earned 13 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, balanced by 83 cancellations. The company plans to open a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina and staff it with non-union personnel. The 787 is designed for increased fuel efficiency, quieter operation, lower emissions and greater passenger comfort (wider seats and larger windows) than contemporary airline designs.