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Boeing delays delivery of new 737 Max planes after flaws found in some fuselages

Unaffected planes remain on schedule

The latest delay comes as Boeing works to mount a comeback for the 737 Max after two air disasters off Indonesia and in Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 grounded the model worldwide for nearly two years. File photo by Cityswift/Flickr
The latest delay comes as Boeing works to mount a comeback for the 737 Max after two air disasters off Indonesia and in Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 grounded the model worldwide for nearly two years. File photo by Cityswift/Flickr

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Boeing is postponing deliveries of some newly built 737 Max planes after maintenance workers discovered structural defects in some fuselages, while a number of unaffected models remain on schedule as airlines clamored for more supply.

Boeing issued a statement saying it will continue to deliver 737 Maxes that were not affected by the problem.

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The Chicago-based company maintained there were no imminent safety risks to the fuel-efficient planes already in use, which were helping to lower operating costs at the major airlines.

"This issue will impact near-term 737 deliveries as we conduct inspections to determine the number of airplanes affected, and complete required rework on those airplanes," the company said in a statement.

Spirit Aerosystems -- the company that supplies the fuselages to Boeing -- said maintenance crews found improperly drilled fastener holes in a number of aft pressure bulkheads -- a critical pressurization component that is key to the structural integrity of every aircraft.

The issue did not affect the entire Max fleet as Boeing "uses multiple suppliers" to make the bulkheads, which serve as a barrier between the pressurized cabin area and the unpressurized tail section of all passenger jets.

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The engineering flaw is the latest in a string of setbacks for Boeing as parts and production lapses frustrate efforts to meet increased travel demand as the major airlines faced growing pressure from the Biden administration to improve service and transit times, especially during the holidays.

Boeing delivered 309 planes during the first seven months of 2023, compared to 381 planes delivered by rival Airbus during that same span.

The company recently set a goal to produce 38 planes per month, up from a rate of 31, and planned to deliver between 400 and 450 Max jets to the airlines before the end of the year.

The latest delay comes as Boeing works to mount a comeback for the 737 Max after two air disasters off Indonesia and in Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 grounded the model worldwide for nearly two years.

For now, Spirit Aerosystems said it will continue to deliver the fuselages to Boeing despite the production issue.

"We are working closely with our customer to address any impacted units within the production system and address any needed rework," the aircraft parts manufacturer said in a statement. "Based upon what we know now, we believe there will not be a material impact to our delivery range for the year related to this issue."

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