Boeing’s list of problems with the Dreamliner production gets longer. Difficulties affect Boeing 787s that have not yet been delivered, but have also been in flight.

Lufthansa is already training cockpit crews for use in the Boeing 787, which will now arrive from 2022 after delays. A delivery in the first quarter of next year would be enough for his airline, said CEO Carsten Spohr at the beginning of November. “We would like to have them in the summer, then we need them.” But does it work?

Boeing’s list of problems with the Dreamliner production is currently not getting any shorter – on the contrary. The Seattle Times newspaper was able to view a recent memo from the American FAA on Boeing’s Dreamliner. It provides new details on known but unsolved problems, but also names an as yet unknown problem.

Impurities problem

Accordingly, Boeing has problems with contamination of the carbon fiber composite material from which large parts of the fuselage, wing and tail are made. This was already noticed at the beginning of the year by the supplier Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is building the wings. The strength of the bond was reduced, but was still within the required limits.

At the end of October, however, Boeing informed the FAA that the same contaminants had now been found in other major suppliers and this time also affected the fuselage and stern. In addition, further tests of the composite materials would have shown that the strength was in some cases outside the permissible limits. An approach to assessing the problem proposed by Boeing did not receive approval from the FAA.

Two ANA pilots with a titanium problem

The memo also provides new details on the use of an incorrect titanium alloy on certain fittings installed by Leonardo in Italy in hull sections that are now in more than 450 Dreamliners. The FAA said this could create an unsafe condition if the wrong alloy was used on two or more adjacent hardware. Two jets that presented this security risk came from All Nippon Airways. Boeing completed repairs on it in October.

A well-known problem with 787 production has also appeared in a new location. Tiny unevenness in the surface structure creates small gaps between different parts of the fuselage. These gaps were not filled with fillers called shims as intended.

Gap now also around the doors

This is now also the case in the area around the rear passenger and cargo doors. The supplier Leonardo is also responsible for production. The FAA found that the cause of the difficulties is not due to poor work in final assembly, but rather to inaccuracies in the machine manufacturing process.

According to the FAA memo, Boeing said the gaps would be within the tolerance range, but did not provide any data on the individual jets. The manufacturer has started to make improvements to the first planes. Newer rear hulls are currently not being built at all.

More than 1000 flying Dreamliners affected

“We check the undelivered aircraft from front to back and have found areas in which the manufacture does not meet the technical specifications,” a Boeing spokesman confirmed to the Seattle Times. None of the problems are an immediate problem for flight safety. The 787s that are currently in service could later be checked and improved as part of routine maintenance.

According to the FAA memo, more than 1,000 Dreamliners that are already flying are said to be affected by the gap problem at various points on the plane, the newspaper writes. That would be as good as all Boeing 787s ever delivered. There is disagreement as to which scope of inspections is appropriate. Boeing has submitted a proposal for inspection, indicating that the procedure does not require FAA approval. “We strongly disagree,” writes the authority.

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