Boeing finds new problem with 737 Max planes after worker spots mis-drilled holes on fuselage that could lead to delays on delivery of 50 new planes

  • Boeing on Sunday warned of delays for 50 undelivered 737 Max planes
  • Improperly drilled holes were discovered by subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems
  • Spirit manufactures much of the fuselage for the troubled 737 Max jets

Boeing has reported another problem with fuselages on its 737 Max jets that could delay deliveries of about 50 planes in the latest quality gaffe to trouble the manufacturer.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a letter to Boeing staff that incorrect holes in fuselages were discovered by subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems, based in Wichita, Kansas.

“While this potential condition is not an immediate safety concern and all 737s can continue to operate safely, we currently believe we will need to perform rework on approximately 50 undelivered aircraft,” Deal said in the letter released Monday.

The problem was discovered by a Spirit employee who notified his manager that two holes may not have been drilled to specifications, Deal said.

Both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems are facing intense scrutiny over the quality of their work after an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 was forced to an emergency landing on Jan. 5 when a panel called a door plug blew out of the side of the plane shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon.

Boeing's 737 MAX-9 is under construction at their production facility in Renton, Washington in a file photo

Boeing’s 737 MAX-9 is under construction at their production facility in Renton, Washington in a file photo

The NTSB is investigating the accident, while the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether Boeing and its suppliers followed quality control procedures.

Spirit manufactured the failed door plug, and the aircraft in question rolled off the assembly line just weeks before the Alaska Airlines incident.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the only other US carriers flying the Max 9, reported finding loose hardware in door plugs from other planes they investigated after the crash.

The FAA grounded all the Max 9s in the US the day after the blowout. Two weeks later, the agency approved the inspection and maintenance process to get the planes flying again.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have begun to re-employ some.

Boeing, based in Renton, Washington, said last week it was withdrawing a request for a safety exemption needed to certify a new, smaller model of the 737 Max plane.

Boeing asked federal regulators late last year to allow deliveries of its 737 Max 7 plane to customers even though it did not meet a safety standard designed to prevent part of the engine bay from overheating and breaking down in flight .

Meanwhile, two former senior Boeing staff said they would not fly on the firm’s 737 Max after its latest safety fiasco.

Ed Pierson, a former Boeing senior executive, says he would 'absolutely not fly a Max plane'

Joe Jacobsen, a former engineer at Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, expressed concern about the jets returning to the skies too soon and said he would urge his family not to put a Boeing 737 Max.

Two former senior Boeing staff, Ed Pierson (left) Joe Jacobsen (right), and said they will not fly on the firm’s 737 Max after its latest safety fiasco

An Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 was forced to make an emergency landing on Jan. 5 when a panel called a door plug blew out of the side of the plane shortly after takeoff.

An Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 was forced to make an emergency landing on Jan. 5 when a panel called a door plug blew out of the side of the plane shortly after takeoff.

Boeing has reported another problem with fuselages on its 737 Max jets that could delay deliveries of about 50 planes (file photo)

Boeing has reported another problem with fuselages on its 737 Max jets that could delay deliveries of about 50 planes (file photo)

“I absolutely would not fly a Max plane,” said Ed Pierson, a former Boeing senior executive told the LA Timesfollowing the January 5 incident in which a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.

“I worked in the factory where they were built, and I saw the pressure on employees to get the planes out the door,” he explained.

He added: ‘I tried to get them to turn off before the first crash.’

The return of the Max 9 to service was “another example of poor decision-making, and it puts public safety at risk,” Pierson told the publication.

Joe Jacobsen, a former engineer at Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, agreed, telling The Times that returning the jets to the sky was “premature.”

“Instead of solving one problem at a time and then waiting for the next one, everyone fixes it,” Jacobsen said.

‘I will tell my family to avoid the Max. I really will tell everyone,’ he said.