Workmanship issue identified in 787 horizontal stabilizers

Boeing says some composite shims in the horizontal stabilizers were attached with excessive torque, which damages the shims and could lead to damage in the stabilizer. All aircraft will be inspected and fixed as necessary.

The Boeing Co. (Everett, Wash., USA) on June 24 announced that it has recently identified a workmanship issue with the 787 Dreamliner’s horizontal stabilizers. Some airplanes have issues with improperly installed composite shims and the torque of associated fasteners. This finding requires inspection of all airplanes and rework if discrepancies are found.

An inspection and rework plan already is implemented for airplanes in production. For those airplanes requiring rework, Boeing says it expects it will take up to eight days for each airplane. Boeing adds that it is not unusual for these issues to arise in the course of production programs — they are identified, dispositioned and dealt with through normal processes.

In a conference call on June 24, Boeing officials said the fasteners used to attach the shims to the tail assembly were attached with excessive torque at Alenia Aeronautica (Foggia, Italy), damaging the shims. This could cause damage to the horizontal stabilizer.

Boeing adds that reports that the fleet is “grounded” are incorrect. Boeing has made the decision to inspect the horizontal stabilizers on all flight test airplanes before their next flights to ensure any rework is completed as quickly as possible. Inspections are expected to take one to two days.

Boeing expects that this issue will be addressed within the existing program schedule. The 787 remains on track for first delivery to ANA by the end of this year.

In other Boeing news, it has been reported that the 787 is likely to make an appearance next month at the Farnborough International Airshow, a biennial trade fair in the United Kingdom for some of the industry's biggest suppliers and customers.