August 14, 2009

Boeing confirms Dreamliner problem

Boeing Co. officials confirmed that 787 Dreamliner fuselage production was halted in Italy nearly two months ago, due to wrinkles in the skin of the aircraft.

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter in Everett, Wash., said the company could fix the problem on the first 23 Dreamliner fuselages with a fairly simple patch. Beyond that, engineers are working on design changes to prevent the necessity of a patch in the future.

The problem showed up on the fifth Dreamliner, when Alenia Aeronautica in Naples, Italy, switched to a new tooling machine, The Wall Street Journal said.

Boeing halted fuselage production June 23, with a letter that said the problem, a wrinkle in the skin of the plane behind the wings, could lead to significant degradation of the structure.

After setbacks that have set delivery schedules back two years, Boeing downplayed the problem. The stoppage of work has no affect on schedule or cost, Gunter said. this is fairly normal for a new development program. These issues come up and we deal with them and move on.

On the same day work was stopped in Italy, Boeing said a structural flaw where the wing and plane join together would delay the first test flight of the Dreamliner, which has not been rescheduled.