Key Points:

  • Boeing, in partnership with Spirit AeroSystems, has broadened their inspection regime for the 737 Max 8 due to a defect concerning improperly drilled holes.

  • Initially focused on automated drill issues, inspections have now extended to include hand-drilled holes.

  • Although Boeing remains committed to quality, concerns arise about meeting their 2023 delivery target of at least 400 jets.


SEATTLE — Boeing announced on Thursday a widening of its inspection parameters concerning the 737 Max 8 aircraft. This comes in the wake of a previously identified defect, in association with supplier Spirit AeroSystems. The initial problem was with holes drilled using an automated method in the aft pressure bulkhead, but the scope has now been extended to encompass manually drilled holes as well. This was first brought to light by The Air Current, an industry trade publication.

Boeing's Assurance and Regulatory Response

In a recent statement, Boeing emphasized its commitment to quality, mentioning, "We continue to take the time necessary to ensure each airplane meets our standards and regulatory requirements prior to ticketing and delivery." The magnitude of this expanded issue remains unspecified, especially concerning its potential impact on Boeing's ambitious target of delivering at least 400 737 jets by 2023. The company, however, refrained from commenting further due to the impending earnings announcement on October 25.

Early this week, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was informed by Boeing about its initial findings, and in response, the FAA stated its awareness of the situation, assuring that there is no immediate threat to safety.

Spirit AeroSystems Collaboration and Delivery Implications:

Spirit AeroSystems continues to collaborate extensively with Boeing, focusing on the necessary rework associated with the aft pressure bulkhead. This ongoing effort stems from the previously identified production defect.

September witnessed a significant drop in Boeing's 737 MAX deliveries, marking the lowest since August 2021, a clear reflection of the challenges posed by the manufacturing glitch. Boeing's CFO, Brian West, previously indicated the company's trajectory towards achieving the "low end" of the 400-450 jets annual delivery target for the 737, notwithstanding the aft pressure bulkhead concerns. Yet, he highlighted that approximately 165 MAXs in production would undergo extensive x-ray examinations before transitioning to customers.