Boeing Co. found “two distinct manufacturing problems” affecting the fuselage of eight 787 Dreamliner aircraft and said the craft must be taken out of service for repair.
The flaws were found at the junction of sections towards the rear of the wide-body aircraft, the company said by email on Friday. The planes, which have already been immobilized, “must be inspected and repaired before continuing with the operation,” Boeing said.
The company said it has notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is “conducting a comprehensive root cause review.”
Air Canada, United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. said each had one of the affected planes.
The problems add to a series of conflicts for Boeing, most notably for its 737 Max workhorse, which has not flown since March 2019 after two crashes claimed the lives of 346 people. Regulators are testing changes to the flight control system, and the plane is expected to be cleared to fly by the end of the year.
Air travel, particularly long-haul flights for which the Dreamliner is used, has declined during the coronavirus pandemic. That should mitigate the impact of the failures found in the eight Dreamliners for the airlines in question. The pandemic also slowed Boeing’s production, potentially reducing the number of planes affected by the manufacturing problem.
The Dreamliner failures were initially reported by the Air Current blog, which said the parts were manufactured and assembled at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina. That plant, which is dedicated to the 787, was included in a 2015 case brought by the FAA that alleged a variety of legal violations and led to Boeing paying a $ 12 million fine.
Boeing has considered consolidating production of the 787 in one location. The model is built in Everett, Washington, as well as the non-union facility in South Carolina.
The FAA says it is in contact with Boeing about the Dreamliner defects.
Since the planes are made in the US, international law dictates that the FAA will take the lead in determining what kind of inspections and repairs are needed after consulting with Boeing.
The agency has the option of issuing emergency orders if it believes urgent action is needed.
The Dreamliner, Boeing’s most prominent wide-body jet, had a number of problems after its debut in 2011, including a global immobilization for three months in 2013 following the collapse of the battery in two aircraft. Some others were withdrawn from service in 2018 after defective Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engine blades deteriorated faster than expected.