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Boeing Reportedly Working Through a Fourth Dreamliner Production Issue

By Lou Whiteman – Sep 11, 2020 at 10:38AM

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It appears to be more of a threat to Boeing's reputation than to passenger safety.

Boeing (BA 2.03%) has been in the news in recent days due to potentially dangerous manufacturing flaws involving a handful of its 787 Dreamliners. On Friday came word of an additional issue, raising new questions about the company's manufacturing prowess at a time when Boeing is already under intense scrutiny.

The latest fault, which was first reported by Bloomberg, involves a slight depression near where the plane's vertical fin joins the fuselage, and has been known since 2019. The issue doesn't affect flight safety and has been addressed in the manufacturing process, Boeing said in a statement to the news service.

A Boeing Dreamliner in flight.

Image source: Boeing.

Boeing late last month instructed customers to ground less than a dozen of its 787 jets after discovering "two distinct manufacturing issues" that, when combined, could leave the plane unable to withstand in-flight stress. The problem is believed to be isolated to only a small number of planes, but the Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating.

The company also said this week that it had discovered another manufacturing issue involving the 787's horizontal stabilizer that it doesn't view as a safety concern.

The issues appear to be manageable and should not be a huge financial drain on Boeing, but the potential reputational damage to the company is a concern.

The Dreamliner is one of Boeing's best-selling planes, and in 2019 helped prop the manufacturer up as it was dealing with the grounding of its 737 MAX after a pair of fatal crashes. Combined, the 737 and 787 make up nearly 90% of Boeing's total order book.

Congressional investigations into the 737 MAX raised a lot of questions about the safety culture at Boeing. The company has also recently signed off on an independent ethics review following allegations of improper contact between Boeing and NASA officials ahead of the company submitting a bid to manufacture a new lunar landing vehicle.

Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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