New "mis-drilled holes" problem found with 737 Max planes

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What a surprise:

“In a cost-cutting move, Boeing has been increasingly depending on suppliers in recent years to assemble key parts of its aircraft,” helpfully explains CNN.

They’re just gliding on the name recognition now, aren’t they?


Spirit Aerosystems used to just be Boeing’s Wichita facility. That place also supplies Airbus, so don’t think this can’t happen to them.


Well, for now. Until they plummet.


This is getting click-baity. Don’t get me wrong… Boeing has a HUGE QUALITY PROBLEM!! But, in manufacturing, stuff like this happens quite often. I would put money there are a handful of other items such as this being worked right now as well. But the article writers have not found them yet to try to get clicks off of it.




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Or, as in the case of that Soyouz capsule, it’s sometimes better to not have holes at all.

Thank goodness for tape.


BoingBoing, for all your hole-related news.


Click-bait? Common manufacturing error? Perhaps. But given the problems Boeing has been having recently, and given there is no information on what part of the plane had the mis-drilled, any manufacturing issue is cause for concern until proven otherwise.


When my coworker was building an airplane in his garage, he would say things like “I drilled two holes last night!” He put a lot of effort into making sure the holes were in the right places.


I actually don’t think the particular part is the important piece of information we’re missing. Mistakes are concerning regardless of what part it was.

The first thing I’d want to know is how the problem was identified. If it was a regular quality control process, that would far less concerning than a lucky accident where someone just happened to notice there was a problem.

Second, I’d want to know what they’re doing in response to finding the problem. Are they just fixing the mistakes, or are they fixing the processes that allowed the mistakes?


PR department came back with a suggestion to replace all uses of “mis-drilled” with “well ventilated”.


You never want mis-drilled holes.

Indeed. Thanks for the humor. I think.

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“In a cost-cutting move, Boeing has been increasingly depending on suppliers in recent years to assemble key parts of its aircraft,” helpfully explains CNN.

Spirit AeroSystems 737 fuselage assembly line in Wichita was part of Boeing Commercial Airplane until 2005. Boeing’s management thought they could drive down costs by divesting themselves of the operation and outsourcing the operation. There’s no evidence that this, or the outsourcing on the 787 have reduced production costs.

You never want mis-drilled holes. All holes must be well-drilled.

On the upside, at least they aren’t punch drilling - that ended badly for DeHavilland (it wasn’t the windows):


And depending on the field, it’s far less likely to get large numbers of human beings killed. It seems like building aircraft, which regularly carries large numbers of people high in the air should maybe have a slightly higher standard for safety… :woman_shrugging:

Yes, everyone knows that it’s totally wrong to want people to read the stuff posted on the internet, a public forum for reading stuff… Especially, you know, people who make a living doing that. How dare they want to eat and feed their families! /s

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Is Boeing out of Wichita now? I intentionally didn’t move back to the Wichita area because I felt its economy was too tied to the aircraft industry, and would also take a big hit if they ever shuttered McConnel AFB.

Yes, Boeing sold its Wichita division in 2005. Nothing has really changed from Wichita’s perspective, other than that the factory there now makes product for more than just Boeing.


That and being one of two entrants in a duopoly and the domestic favorite versus Europe’s Airbus.


“In manufacturing” is a pretty big field.

And the thing is, even then, stuff like this shouldn’t happen for any high quality manufacturing, and especially not for anything safety critical. Like pretty much every part of an aircraft.

If it’s largely done by hand and the precise fit doesn’t matter, then sure, misdrilling of holes happens all the time (whether it’s the wrong size hole, or in the wrong place, or whatever). But then, either the precision requirements are such that they just redo it or fix it on the fly, or else the part is scrapped and redone. Where there are higher precision standards, then there are higher manufacturing standards, and higher testing standards. And aircraft are built to high precision, with sod all margin for error. There’s not a lot of slop in an airframe, when the torque on the bolts is specified to the inch-pound, and a missing or incorrectly torqued bolt could result in a catastrophic failure resulting in anything up to a mid-air unscheduled rapid disassembly mass casualty event.

Once upon a time, Boeing was known for taking this sort of thing seriously. Everything was specced, and everything was checklisted, and tested, and then tested again.

Boeing no longer has the reputation for doing that. They have the reputation now of “good enough” in manufacturing, of increasing sloppiness in processes, and of generally putting economy over safety.

When you and another hundred or more people are at 50,000 feet, whether Boeing made a few extra thousand dollars in time savings in not doing the checks is not as important as whether the emergency door or an aileron might or might not suddenly fall off.


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