Boeing Finds Debris in Fuel Tanks of Undelivered MAX Jets

Date : 02/19/2020 @ 12:19AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Boeing Co (BA)
Quote : 151.18  9.6 (6.78%) @ 5:00PM

Boeing Finds Debris in Fuel Tanks of Undelivered MAX Jets

Boeing (NYSE:BA)
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By Doug Cameron 

Boeing Co. said Tuesday that it had found debris in the fuel tanks of undelivered 737 MAX jetliners, the latest setback in the plane maker's efforts to address quality control problems.

The debris was found in an undisclosed number of jets parked at facilities in Washington state and Texas, where planes have been stored since a global ban on commercial MAX flights was imposed following two crashes that killed 346 people.

The company has stored the planes awaiting approval from regulators to restart MAX flying after changes to the plane's flight control software and training regimes, which it has said could occur by midyear.

Boeing said the debris was discovered during "routine" inspections, but didn't detail how many planes were affected, or when they rolled off the production line. The problem was first revealed on leeham.net, an aviation news site.

Boeing said it is inspecting all 400 undelivered MAX jets and intensifying efforts to prevent a recurrence of debris problems that have already bedeviled some 787 Dreamliners and KC-46A military refueling tankers produced at separate factories.

Each undelivered MAX jet has a team assigned to maintain it as well as 385 more that were in operation before last year's grounding. Boeing halted production of new jets last month.

The company said it had instituted new practices and inspections to prevent so-called foreign object debris, or FOD, incidents at its Renton factory near Seattle. where the MAX is produced.

"FOD is absolutely unacceptable," said 737 General Manager Mark Jenks in a message to employees released by Boeing. "One escape is one too many."

Boeing said it has been using the halt in MAX assembly to improve its production processes, diverting 3,000 assembly workers and hundreds of other staff to prepare its lines for a restart, as well as to other aircraft programs.

However, the discovery of debris in undelivered jets follows similar crackdowns to improve quality control at plants producing other jets.

Boeing twice had to halt deliveries of the KC-46A to the U.S. Air Force after debris, including tools and rags, was found in planes after they had been delivered from its Everett factory north of Seattle. The Air Force started accepting planes again, but has been withholding some payments because of ongoing design problems that leave them short of being fully operational.

"We've seen issues across Boeing but the Everett facility, I would say, is the most advanced of those," Air Force procurement chief Will Roper said in an interview last June.

Unwanted debris was also found last year on some Dreamliners, which are produced in Everett and at a factory in South Charleston, S.C.

Write to Doug Cameron at doug.cameron@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 18, 2020 19:04 ET (00:04 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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