Hairline cracks discovered on 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on production line

By Kyle Johnson,

Boeing announced that it has discovered that about 40 of its 787 Dreamliners have hairline cracks in the wings, but noted the company will still hit its quota of 110 Dreamliners shipped in 2014.

The cracks were also found on the 787-9 models, which are currently going through flight tests, reports Reuters. Boeing stressed that the cracks were only found on planes not yet being used by airlines.

The problem seemed to stem from the wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., who changed their manufacturing process and reached out to Boeing after discovering the resulting cracks.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said, "We are confident that the condition does not exist in the in-service fleet."

The cracks are the result of fasteners that connect carbon fiber composite wing panels with aluminum shear ties on the wing ribs being tightened excessively. The fasteners were being used without manufacturing fillers, which led to small cracks of about one inch on the wings.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the cracks affecting so many planes shows the problems that trying to quickly manufacture something could cause.

The lighter and more fuel efficient plane has seen high demand, but also problems, such as Boeing having to fix a lithium-ion battery casing problem, that left the company forced to suspend deliveries for a short while in 2013.

image: By André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters) [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

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