Boeing 787 quality issues raise their head again

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Boeing never seems to get a break, but then when you keep getting it wrong, nobody does. This time another expose on production quality at the Dreamliner assembly plants has pointed the finger squarely at the company and its one dominating requirement – profits.

The New York Times covered the subject again, using internal emails and interviews with dozens of staff to uncover yet more ongoing issues.

Incidents, including piles of metal shavings left under cockpit wiring looms, the installation of already faulty parts abound. One former Boeing engineer said there was little more worrying than the metal filings as these lead to abrasion and wiring failures, even fires, with potential catastrophic loss the result.

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Once again the FAA found that although Boeing was certifying that the debris issue was no longer a problem, investigation proved otherwise.

Following the twin 737MAX  crashes the Boeing plant held meetings with 787 assembly staff to give them feedback from airlines and their passengers on the quality of their work.

Etihad, EVA Air and Qatar were all said to be very unhappy, Qatar so much so it refused to accept deliveries from the Charleston plant, after extensive external component damage was found to be caused by incompetent workers.

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Qatar continues to refuse aircraft built at Charleston.

By the time you add the situation with Boeing’s KC-46 Tanker – a modified 767 for the US Air Force – where debris and tools have been found repeatedly left inside wings and other areas, Boeing’s poor work ethic seems endemic.

There is clearly a poor work ethic at Charleston – which has suffered from exceptionally bad management choices, largely based on their abilities to push work through, regardless, to maximise profits. Add to that an indifferent work force unappreciated and under-trained, the issues at the Charleston plant seem to be continuously problematic.

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Boeing of course is having none of it, yet as the old adage says, there’s no smoke without fire and this has happened too many times for it to be simple coincidence.

If you search for the number of minor 787 incidents that have occurred even in the last year, they make for some sober reading. Strange smells, electrical failures of on board components and so on, abound.

Boeing has a problem from the top to the bottom of its company – profits are good, but not to the exclusion of everything else.

“I’ve told my wife that I never plan to fly on it. It’s just a safety issue.”

Joseph Clayton, former Boeing engineer of 30 years referring to the 787 last week

In a months time I’m due to fly on a pair of quite new Rolls Royce powered 787-9’s built at Charleston. 11 hours each way. Wish me luck.

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