Boeing reportedly halts 787 work in Italy to address composites flaws

Out-of-spec stringer edge steps reportedly have caused fuselage skin wrinkling in several shipsets, forcing Boeing to halt fuselage production at the Italian facility.

Alenia Aeronautica (Naples, Italy) reportedly has ceased production of two major structural components for the Boeing 787 due to wrinkles in the fuselage skin caused by manufacturing flaws in subcomponents of the one-piece composite barrel, according to a letter obtained by Jon Ostrower, author of the FlightBlogger blog on the Flight Global website.

The letter, signed and dated June 23 on Boeing letterhead, addresses structural issues on fuselage Sections 44 and 46 and appears to be separate from another problem Boeing discovered with the wing/fuselage joint that caused Boeing to delay first flight of the 787 in June.

According to the letter, the production halt is "related to stringer edge steps" causing wrinkles in the skin of the fuselage that were larger than previously "demonstrated during the [preproduction verification] PPV on these components." Stringer edge steps are the composite members that make up the longitudinal structure cured and bonded to the fuselage skin to give it its strength.

According to the letter, repair of shipsets 7 through 29 will be required. Of those, four are in Boeing's Everett, Wash., facility, eight are at Global Aeronautica's facility in Charleston, S.C., and the remaining 13 are in Grottaglie, Italy.

Ostrower reports that according to the letter, specifications were authored to control the height of the "edge step" as a result of what was learned during preproduction verification (PPV). The letter says Alenia determined it "cannot comply with the requirement" and had requested "that the step height control provisions be eliminated." Boeing concluded that "based on the structural analysis...this is unacceptable" because the wrinkles "represent a risk of a major repair to every unit that is built without engineering coverage."

How this flaw will affect the schedule of the 787 is unknown. Boeing has reported already that a revised planning schedule will be available by the end of September.

Information: Click here for original Flightblogger report.