Boeing Warns Of Defective 787 Parts


Boeing has told authorities that some of the small titanium parts that hold the Boeing 787 together were not manufactured properly. It has also stressed that the issue presents no immediate flight safety issues. The parts were made by an Italian company and sold to Boeing by Leonardo, a major supplier to Boeing. Leonardo no longer buys parts from that company (Manufacturing Processes Specification). It does not appear any aircraft will be grounded and any fleet action will be determined after talks with the FAA.

The parts involved include fittings, spacers, brackets and clips in assemblies throughout the aircraft. It’s the latest in a series of manufacturing issues that have affected the Dreamliner, most notably a skin wrinkling issue that could affect structural integrity. Production was most recently suspended last May. 

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  1. > some of the small titanium parts that hold the Boeing 787 together were not manufactured properly.

    Gee, where do I start …

    15% of the 787 by weight consists of titanium. The reason is that carbon fiber, aluminum and water cause galvanic corrosion, destroying any aluminum parts, so titanium must be used when in contact with carbon fiber. That rules out aluminum rivets as used in almost every other plane for the past 100 years.

    So when I see “small titanium parts”, my reaction is that description matches 15% of the plane, and either the part was fabricated in-house or it needs a valid tag, which MPS didn’t provide. So all those parts from MPS need to be ripped out and replaced.

    But it gets better.

    When mfg. something with carbon fiber, there is a “carbon tax” (what I call it) that increases costs at every turn.

    In the case of airframes, carbon fiber explodes when struck by lightning, in one case 48 holes were found after one strike. The 787 wings started with copper lightning conductors, but those were eliminated in the name of “efficiency.” Wonder where the lightning goes now? Note that there is about 1 strike per 2,300 flight hours, so that’s pretty often.

    FAA, get engaged and do your job providing oversight on the 787. So far, I’m not seeing it.

  2. Incredible. It just doesn’t stop… At some point you have to cut your losses and stop the insanity, or, the market will do it for you. There is nothing saving this company. Comprehensive structural overhaul (mass firings) which is the only sound option isn’t going to happen. Garbage in garbage out.

    • I’m not sure I understand your point Stu; “mass firings” of the people that authorized the manufacture of sub-standard parts or the two other companies in the supply chain that unknowingly resold or assembled those parts? Knee jerk reactions like “mass firings” have never solved a problem but drilling down to find out who knowingly authorized the error might just be a good idea. That should have been (and may have been) the results of the MCAS induced failures but we’ll never really know for sure. At what point in the decision chain did the known flaw stop being upwardly briefed? That’s the point/person that needs to answer each time, not “mass firings”.

      • Boeing’s way to far down the rabbit hole to selectively choose and dissect who you’re going to get rid of and when. That approach was passed up decades ago. Right now you have a five alarm fire, stage four cancer. There aren’t many choices and there is literally no time. Again, that train left the station decades ago.

        Personally, I don’t think Boeing will survive in the image that it had been known for in the 60s and 70s. The damage is to pervasive and has been allowed to ingrain itself over decades of mismanagement. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be a Boeing. You’ll just see more mismanagement and things falling off of airplanes with the Boing name on it. Sad, but, it is what it is. I’m just glad I have the privilege of flying myself anywhere I want, when I want without having to get on an airline.

  3. It ain’t black aluminum.
    But all of the bulkheads and stringers cause me to believe that that message was lost on Boeing’s design engineers.
    What’s the very best kind of fastener? The kind that doesn’t appear on the Bill of Materials. It costs nothing, and it never fails.

  4. What’s the matter with Airbus?????

    The A320’s tails are cracking!!!!!!!! AD 2020-22-06
    The A320’s Fuel pumps could fail at any moment!!!!!!! AD 2021-10-04]
    The A320’s Wings might fall off at any moment due to bad fasteners!!!!!!! AD2014-26-53
    The A320 Might come falling out of the sky at any moment when the engine cowl mounts fail!!!! AD 2021-05-20

    Those are just a hand full of the 100s of ADs on the A320 family. If you really want to scare yourself, look at all the ADs on Airbus Helicopters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I am sure that Mr. Howard is correct. Unfortunately, two wrongs don’t make a right–or as
    philosophers would say, if one leaky bucket won’t hold water, neither will ten of them. What
    follows from his analysis is that both the Airbus and the 787 should be grounded, until such
    time as they are thoroughly repaired and properly inspected, regardless of how much time
    it takes, how much money it costs, and all of the other consequences and inconveniences
    that doing so will undoubtedly entail. Anything less than that is a violation of public trust,
    leading inevitably to criminal negligence and multiple indictments for reckless involuntary
    manslaughter. If that isn’t clear enough, watch “All My Sons” (1948, dir. Irving Reis, based
    on the play by Arthur Miller), or consult the Golden Rule. You cannot reduce risk to absurdity
    by comparing it to something worse without compounding the felony, and doubling the evil.

  6. Gosh, this gets to the gray area. Absolute safety is impossible…except maybe in death :-). But where should the lines be drawn? From what I gather, Boeing management changed around the time they acquired or were acquired by Douglas, from an engineer driven management to a “business” management style (AKA “bean counters”), which changed the trajectory of Boeing. All of Boeing’s troubles might be attributed to that change in culture at the company. And as some of you have noted, changing a culture is difficult, requiring review of nearly every individual to see if she/he is “on board” with the company mission. Even if it does occur, it takes at least several years to implement, to figuratively speaking, change the life blood of the organization. The thing is, the bean counters aren’t not necessarily bad, nor is anyone else. But as we all know, humans can do some self defeating stuff, almost regularly, and not always intentionally, or with full forethought and awareness. Reminds me of a lyric from a ’70’s rock song, “Carry on my wayward son…”

  7. To Jim Howard thank you for that information regarding Airbus ADs. No one seems to talk about that or even cover it since Boeing has been more in the spotlight lately. As to this issue with 787 parts, this is what happens when a major aircraft manufacturer outsources their production. I worked for an aerospace company that outsourced some critical parts for the Marine Osprey program. The finalized assemblies came back for random testing. These all failed. The completed assemblies were good for nothing more than glorified boat anchors. All because of the outsourcing of critical parts. The facility that made these parts could not hold tolerances. Our facility did make those parts before they were outsourced to a foreign facility. None of the assemblies we completed failed any test nor did they fail in operation. The problem: outsourcing.

  8. This is somewhat puzzling. Parts manufactured improperly including fittings etc. yet no aircraft will be grounded and no “immediate” flight hazard. It’s hard to believe the Quality Control which would be a condition of the contract would have whiffed at the level of mfr, then at Leonardo, then at Boeing. I’d like to see more details on this issue. “Not manufactured properly” could possibly include an incomplete paper trail. There is obviously more to this story but it may not necessarily be “more ominous”.