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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Boeing to delay some 787 deliveries after finding new glitch

A new Boeing 787 Dreamliner emerges from the 787 final assembly factory in Everett, Wash., in July 2020.  (Tribune News Service)
By Julie Johnsson Bloomberg

Boeing will delay deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft after uncovering flawed parts during production, a setback as the plane maker works to meet soaring demand for its long-range aircraft.

Shares fell as much as 3.9% on the news, reversing an earlier gain.

The stock had risen 9.6% in trading this year through the close of Monday’s session.

The flaw may affect about 90 already-built Dreamliners that the company has not yet delivered, Boeing said on Tuesday.

The company will inspect each plane for improperly sized gap-fillers within the horizontal stabilizer, a tiny wing attached to a jet’s tail.

A handful of 787s on the final assembly line within Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C., facility will also need to be inspected for the faulty gap-fillers, known as shims, and repaired.

In the near-term, Boeing’s latest production glitch is likely to exacerbate a shortage of new aircraft as airlines struggle to keep up with a post-pandemic jump in air travel.

The U.S. plane maker and its rival, Airbus, have been contending with supplier and labor strains that are crimping their ability to ramp up production.

Boeing is also contending with a supplier defect affecting hundreds of its 737 Max jets.

Dreamliner production won’t be halted, Boeing said.

The next horizontal stabilizers to be shipped from the planemaker’s Salt Lake City factory will be built with shims that meet Boeing’s engineering specifications.

Boeing said it still expects to deliver between 70 and 80 of its marquee wide-body aircraft this year, and hasn’t changed its goal of building four Dreamliners a month by the end of the year.

Boeing and U.S. regulators are still determining what action, if any, will be necessary for the in-service 787 fleet, Boeing said.

The flawed stabilizer parts, which were discovered last week, aren’t considered an immediate safety of flight issue by U.S. regulators.

That means that emergency repairs aren’t needed for Dreamliners already in commercial service at airlines.

The U.S. plane maker paused 787 deliveries earlier this year, and is only just recovering from tiny structural defects that halted Dreamliner shipments during 2021 and 2022.

Boeing targets increasing output of the Dreamliner to a 10-jet monthly pace by mid-decade, a goal that’s crucial to meeting Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun’s target of generating $10 billion in cash by 2025 or 2026.