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Boeing Engineer Says Company Used Shortcuts to Fix 787 Jets

A veteran Boeing engineer has filed a complaint with federal regulators alleging the company dismissed quality and safety concerns during production of its troubled 787 Dreamliner jets.

Federal safety officials are investigating claims by the engineer, Sam Salehpour, that in 2021 he observed Boeing using shortcuts during the 787 assembly process that placed excessive stress on important joints and embedded drilling debris between joints on more than 1,000 planes. The errors, they say, reduce the plane’s lifespan and could be difficult to detect.

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Boeing Finds New Problem With 737 MAX Fuselages

Boeing is reworking 50 undelivered 737 MAX jets after a supplier’s employee recently found misdrilled holes on some fuselages, a new production snafu for the aircraft manufacturer.

Spirit AeroSystems, which has been at the center of quality issues affecting 737s, supplied the fuselages and it was one of its employees that flagged the issue. Shares of Spirit fell in Monday trading. It reports quarterly results Tuesday.

Boeing said that the issue could delay some deliveries in the near term and that existing 737s can keep flying.

“This is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time,” Boeing’s commercial chief Stan Deal said in a memo to staff on Sunday.

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Alaska Airlines Plane Appears to Have Left Boeing Factory Without Critical Bolts

Bolts needed to secure part of an Alaska Airlines jet that blew off in midair appear to have been missing when the plane left Boeing’s BA 1.60%increase; green up pointing triangle factory.

Boeing and other industry officials increasingly believe the plane maker’s employees failed to put back the bolts when they reinstalled a 737 MAX 9 plug door after opening or removing it during production, according to people familiar with the matter.

The increasingly likely scenario, according to some of these people, is based partly on an apparent absence of markings on the Alaska door plug itself that would suggest bolts were in place when it blew off the jet around 16,000 feet over Oregon on Jan. 5.

They also pointed to paperwork and process lapses at Boeing’s Renton, Wash., factory related to the company’s work on the plug door.

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Boeing Snafus Add New Risks to 2024 Production Goals

The FAA grounded some Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes after a door plug fell from an Alaska Airlines flight. WSJ’s George Downs explores what the accident means for Boeing and whether it can afford another setback. Photo composite: NTSB/George Downs
Boeing BA 1.60%increase; green up pointing triangle was having trouble making enough 737s before the Alaska Airlines door-plug blowout. Now it faces new concerns that added inspections and regulatory scrutiny will sap its output this year.

Key airline customers are inspecting existing 737 MAX 9 planes, while federal air-safety officials are delving into the jet maker’s broader manufacturing processes. They are also examining supplier Spirit AeroSystems SPR 1.03%increase; green up pointing triangle, which produced the plane’s door plug and fuselage.

Several aerospace analysts have lowered their financial forecasts for Boeing following the Jan. 5 accident, which also led to the grounding of 170 MAX 9 jets. How significant the financial impact is will depend, they say, on how long it takes to identify the cause and secure long-awaited certification of other MAX models.

“The pace is clearly going to be affected,” said Michel Merluzeau of AIR, a research company in Seattle. “In the longer term, this puts a lot of pressure on Boeing.”

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