Potential flaw tied to 787-8 wings spurs FAA directive

Possible fatigue cracking where the wings attach to the body of a 787-8 Dreamliner led to an airworthiness directive for the passenger plane, which is built in North Charleston and in Everett, Wash.

The Federal Aviation Administration this week issued an airworthiness directive for Boeing Co.’s 787-8 Dreamliner because rough edges on fastener holes where the wings connect to the airplane’s body could cause fatigue cracking.

The FAA said the cracking “can weaken the primary wing structure so it cannot sustain (its) limit load.”

The directive, which takes effect March 9, requires Boeing to revise its maintenance or inspection program to ensure the fastener holes are smooth.

Boeing had informed customers of the problem in March 2015, according to news reports.

“Our recommendations, however, are not binding. Only a regulatory agency has the authority to require them. That is what the FAA’s rule does,” Boeing spokesman Tom Kim told Reuters.

Boeing, which builds its Dreamliners in North Charleston and in Everett, Wash., said it will fix any faults on delivered airplanes and make adjustments to those that are still being manufactured.

The FAA said in the directive that no planes flown by U.S. carriers have the flaw.

“However, this rule is necessary to ensure that the described unsafe condition is addressed if any of these products are placed on the U.S. Register in the future,” the directive states.

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The directive states the problem can be resolved with about one hour of maintenance per plane.

Boeing has 435 orders for its 787-8, with 145 yet to be delivered. The Dreamliner program, which also includes the longer 787-9 and 787-10 models, has 1,143 orders and a backlog of 773 planes.

The company employs about 7,500 workers in North Charleston and has invested about $2 billion in the region since 2009.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_