Boeing
Boeing begins final assembly of first 737 MAX 8, Sept. 2015.

Details Emerge on 737 MAX Fuselage Repairs

May 8, 2023
Repairs are being initiated to correct the manufacturing problem affecting 737 MAX fuselages, and supplier Spirit AeroSystems has resumed deliveries of qualified structures to Boeing.

Spirit AeroSystems, the Wichita-based manufacturers of commercial aircraft structures, business and regional jets, and defense airframes, reportedly has restarted deliveries of qualified 737 MAX fuselages to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The supplier had been identified by Boeing as the source of a manufacturing defect that halted assembly of its top-selling narrow-body during Q1, and introduced a new delay in deliveries of those jets.

Recently, Boeing indicated the problem would not alter its plan to increase its output of 737 MAX jets from 31 to 38/month.

Spirit AeroSystems is a long-standing supplier of Boeing aerostructures, and a primary supplier to the 737 MAX program. In April, Boeing described the problem as one involving installation of fittings produced via a “non-standard manufacturing process.” Later, it was explained that two of the eight fittings that link the vertical fin and rear fuselage on 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, 737-8-200, and P-8 aircraft were affected by the problem. Also, reportedly, the manufacturing problem originated in 2019, suggesting that a large number of aircraft may need repairs.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Boeing’s assessment that the issue does not represent an immediate safety concern, though the number of affected aircraft had not been determined at that time.

In a recent conference call, CEO Tom Gentile stated that Spirit had identified all the affected structures and that his company had established and started to implement an acceptable repair process for the affected fuselages.

Gentile said Spirit AeroSystems has identified 65 structures that require repair in its own inventory, awaiting shipment to Boeing. He said all the repairs would be completed on affected fuselages in its own inventory by the end of July. 

Boeing has said that most of the 225 undelivered 737 MAX jets in its inventory will require repairs, as will several more aircraft structures still in assembly.

Boeing has not reported the number of aircraft in service that will need repairs.

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