Boeing finds new problem with 787 that will delay deliveries

FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, a Boeing 787 airplane being built for Norwegian Air Shuttle is shown at Boeing Co.'s assembly facility, in Everett, Wash. Boeing is dealing with a new production problem involving its 787 jet, in which inspections have found flaws in the way that sections of the rear of the plane were joined together. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, it's not an immediate safety risk but could cause the planes to age prematurely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, a Boeing 787 airplane being built for Norwegian Air Shuttle is shown at Boeing Co.'s assembly facility, in Everett, Wash. Boeing is dealing with a new production problem involving its 787 jet, in which inspections have found flaws in the way that sections of the rear of the plane were joined together. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, it's not an immediate safety risk but could cause the planes to age prematurely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Boeing has recorded its first orders of the year for the grounded 737 Max, but a new flaw has surfaced in another of its planes, compounding the company's struggle to recover during a pandemic that has undercut demand for new jetliners.

Boeing said Tuesday it is inspecting part of the tail of the two-aisle 787 after finding that pieces were clamped together too tightly, which could lead to premature fatigue of a part called the horizontal stabilizer.

The company said it believes the problem affects 893 of the nearly 1,000 787s that have been built. Boeing expects the inspections of recently finished planes to affect the timing of 787 deliveries in the near term, spokesman Peter Pedraza said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating the matter.

“It is too early to speculate about the nature or extent of any proposed Airworthiness Directives that might arise from the agency’s investigation,” said the spokesman, Lynn Lunsford, referring to potential safety orders that could be imposed on Boeing.

Boeing disclosed last month that it found two other manufacturing flaws in the 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner and is built largely of carbon composite materials. The company grounded eight planes because of those issues.

The company said Tuesday that during production of the tail horizontal stabilizers at a Boeing plant in Salt Lake City, some parts were clamped together with too much force, resulting in improper gaps between sections. Boeing doesn’t believe it is an immediate safety issue but could lead to premature aging of the parts, and it is delaying some 787 deliveries while determining whether repairs are needed on planes that have already been delivered.

The Chicago-based company, which builds planes in Washington state and South Carolina, said it delivered 13 airliners last month, including four 787s.