Boeing said that a new problem with the fuselages of some unfinished 737 jets would force the company to rework about 50 planes, potentially delaying their delivery and raising further concerns about quality at the manufacturer and its suppliers.
Stan Deal, the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial plane unit, said in a memo to employees on Sunday that a supplier last week had identified that “two holes may not have been drilled exactly to our requirements.”
Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing’s fuselage supplier, said on Monday that a member of its team had identified an issue that did not conform to engineering standards. “Once notified, we began immediate actions to identify and implement appropriate repair solutions,” he said. “We are in close communication with Boeing on this matter.”
Mr. Deal of Boeing said in his memo that it was “not an immediate flight safety issue.” He added that the 737s currently in use could continue flying.
The new problems were another setback for Boeing, which has been under pressure from regulators, investors and its airline customers since Jan. 5, when a panel on a 737 Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines blew out mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing and the grounding of some Max 9s in the United States.
Quality concerns at Boeing and its suppliers have taken on new urgency after news accounts, including a report in The New York Times, found that Boeing workers had opened and reinstalled the panel that blew off the Alaska Airlines plane. Last week, Boeing declined to provide a full-year financial forecast as scheduled, an indication that it was trying to assure customers that quality control would take precedence over financial performance.