More questions about Boeing’s quality systems

Boeing Quality statement
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Italian Investigators charging two companies with produced more than 4,000 non-compliant parts

Who found the faulty parts ?

B-787s airworthy, but where/when should they have been culled 

An Italian prosecutor has alleged that a company in his country “made 4,189 parts using ‘titanium and aluminium of different quality and origin’ from those ordered by Boeing, breaching its relevant technical specifications. None of the multitude of articles about this criminal case, which the FAA is following, indicate who first detected the flaw—Boeing, its fuselage assembly contractor Spirit AeroSystems, either of the Italian companies (Manufacturing Process Specification (MPS),Processi Speciali) or the FAA. Though the question may not be answered, the who, what, why and how issues should be recited.

It is important to note that both the FAA and Boeing have categorically stated that the existing B-787s are AIRWORTHY!!!

 

The major commercial aircraft manufacturers do not really produce all that goes into their final product. Subcontracts for parts, systems and assemblies are issued for international trade (i.e., Contracts  with Country A may cause Airline A to buy your airliner), special technical competence, high quality production, access to rare materials, ability to produce faster than other sources, or cheaper labor reasons. Not clear why Boeing decided to source these parts.

 All OEMs have designed and implemented comprehensive and continuous Quality Control and Quality Assurance Systems. Each internally or externally product is subject to measures intended to examine its critical elements of its safety. These tests can be performed at the point of manufacture and/or with a company which assembles a system (e.g., Spirit) and/or Boeing. The redundancy occurs when the quality assurance assessment finds that extraordinary measures are required. Again, the public reports do not specify where QA and/or QC steps were completed.

On a positive note, both MPS and Processi Special held a significant certification of their adherence to the highest levels of safety an ASE AS 9100 positive audits during the years subject to investigation:

AS 9100

 

Boeing should have had some level of assurance based on the 9100 determinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collective information from a number of articles is well summarized by these quotes:

Boeing Finds New Defect in Ongoing Struggle to Produce Dreamliner 787 | Newsmax.com

The parts include fittings that help secure the floor beam in one fuselage section, as well as other fittings, spacers, brackets, and clips within other assemblies.

Undelivered aircraft will be reworked as needed, Boeing said, adding that any fleet actions would be determined through its normal review process and confirmed with the FAA.

The defect was found [no who or when]as the planemaker grapples with other problems in its 787 that have caused it to cut production and halt deliveries since May.

 Aero supplier Spirit says it took action over parts obtained indirectly from MPS

Spirit AeroSystems

On Friday, Spirit said that from March through July, Boeing had issued communications to its supply chain, including Spirit, identifying possible flawed parts dating back to 2017.

“Upon receipt of information from Boeing identifying parts from sub-tier suppliers which used MPS, Spirit took appropriate action,” the company said in an emailed statement.

In its March warning, Boeing asked Spirit to use alternative suppliers as it continued an audit of MPS, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The planemaker had also asked Wichita-based Spirit to trace any MPS parts it had used back to 2017 and to treat them as “suspect nonconforming,” meaning they would be subject to further checks

 

What is known is that as early as 2019 Boeing applied lean manufacturing principles to all elements of its process. The Pulitzer-prize winning  Seattle-Times writer Dominic Gates wrote then

Boeing overhauls quality controls: more high-tech tracking but fewer inspectors

“Boeing has begun a sweeping transformation of its quality system, including the use of “smart” tools and automation. It will also eliminate thousands of quality checks as no longer necessary. Boeing has told the union it will cut about 450 quality inspector positions this year and potentially a similar number next year.”

In 2021, FAA fined Boeing $6.6 million over compliance and quality-control lapses; “the FAA said that the company failed to follow quality-control processes” among several allegations.

Boeing responded:

“We are strengthening our work processes and operations to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality,” the Chicago-based company said in a statement.

As the facts evolve (if the source of these QC failures is pursued), it will be interesting, NAY critical to Boeing’s future QA/QC systems, to find what did or did not capture these materials specified.

Boeing QC inspector with new tools

 

 

 

 

 


Prosecutors say Italian firm produced 4,000 flawed parts for Boeing

MPS hdq

Francesca Landini and Tim Hepher

MILAN (Reuters) – An Italian supplier at the centre of recent industrial snags on the 787 Dreamliner airplane destined for Boeing Co over five years, a preliminary report from Italian prosecutors shows.

Initial results of an investigation launched earlier this year suggest that Manufacturing Process Specification (MPS), or its now-bankrupt predecessor company Processi Speciali[1], produced flawed parts between 2016 and 2021, according to the document.

According to the report, seen by Reuters, the suspect titanium parts made it into 35 Boeing 787 fuselages.

It added that the Brindisi-based supplier also made parts for the Boeing 767, a freighter model which is now also used as the basis for a U.S. Air Force tanker.

The investigation aims to establish whether MPS or its predecessor firm produced flawed components that could threaten air safety, a risk that has been denied by Boeing.

Boeing declined direct comment on the prosecutors’ document, parts of which were first reported by Italian daily Il Corriere del Mezzogiorno. It reiterated, however, that airworthiness had not been affected.

“While our assessment is ongoing, this does not present an immediate safety of flight concern,” a spokesperson said.

In October, Boeing said some 787 Dreamliner parts supplied by MPS had been improperly manufactured over the previous three years, marking the latest in a series of industrial snags to hit the airliner.

Italy’s Leonardo, which was the immediate customer for parts made by MPS and has said it too is a victim of the suspected failure to meet specifications, declined comment.

 Antonio IngrossoA lawyer for former MPS Chief Executive Antonio Ingrosso, as well as for the former chief executive of its now-bankrupt predecessor Processi Speciali, also declined to comment.

The U.S. Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether suspect parts had reached any of its 767-based KC-46 tankers, the first of which was delivered in 2019.

DOORFRAME

The report emerged days after Italian prosecutors ordered the seizure of components intended for Boeing 787s from a Leonardo plant in Grottaglie, southern Italy[2].

Loenardo Plant

MPS was a sub-supplier until this year for two sections of 787 fuselage made by Leonardo, known as sections 44 and 46.

In the report, prosecutors alleged that MPS or Processi Speciali made 4,189 parts using “titanium and aluminium of different quality and origin” from those ordered by the customer, breaching the relevant technical specifications.

In particular, they said, it produced components using so-called ‘grade 2 titanium’ instead of a titanium alloy, they said, adding that the metal used had “mechanical and structural strength properties far inferior to those of the alloy”.

The affected parts included a clip for the doorframe of the left-side cargo door of the 787, the document said. It did not provide details of any suspect parts made for the older 767.

Prosecutors allege MPS chose cheaper non-compliant metals to save costs and speed up production, resulting in a reduction of additional margins built in to the design to ensure safety.

Eight individuals, including the former head of MPS and the former head of Processi Speciali, are under investigation for fraud and for actions threatening the safety of air transport

[1] Established in 1998 Processi Speciali is a specialized firm in CNC Machining, Shot Peening and Surface Treatments which provides services to Aerospace Manufacturing Industries.

[2] Leonardo, different metals for the Boeing 787: seizures at the Grottaglie site— allegedly used “structural metal components by purchasing the raw material from suppliers not certified by Leonardo” and used “grade 2 titanium” instead of the “titanium alloy” prescribed by the client . Grade 2 titanium – it is written in the seizure decree – “has mechanical properties and structural resistance much lower than those of the aforementioned alloy”. According to the prosecutor’s hypothesis, the passenger floor structure of the 787 was also produced with «titanium 2».

B-787 cargo door



 

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1 Comment on "More questions about Boeing’s quality systems"

  1. This is so sad. Titanium has been a problem for years. As I’m sure your aware, the FAA even established a Titanium Task Force to study the issues/concerns many years ago. What’s amazing to me is, as those with the historical and technical knowledge leave aviation no repository of that knowledge has been established nor mined. It’s sad that all these lessons must be relearned every 20-30 years. And all the “quality systems” are useless unless managed by competent, knowledge people with integrity.

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