More Dreamliner Problems

“HAIRLINE CRACKS” FOUND IN WINGS OF NEXT GENERATION JET … “More Dreamliner problems.” Sheesh … that headline is getting kind of old, isn’t it? Seriously … a more newsworthy story at this point would be if Boeing’s next generation passenger jet actually went a month without experiencing some sort of…


“More Dreamliner problems.” Sheesh … that headline is getting kind of old, isn’t it?

Seriously … a more newsworthy story at this point would be if Boeing’s next generation passenger jet actually went a month without experiencing some sort of potentially debilitating mishap.

A month after a Dreamliner’s cockpit system “went blank” on an Air India flight from New Delhi to Melbourne, Australia, the 787 is back in the news with another problem.

This time it’s “hairline cracks” discovered in the wings of forty Dreamliners still in production, according to Reuters.

This time South Carolina workers – whose craftsmanship has been called into question as it relates to the 787 – are not the guilty parties. The problem reportedly stems from a production issue at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which manufactures the plane’s wings.

Still, it’s another setback costing the company time and money – the latter of which we’re sure it will find a way to recoup from gullible Palmetto taxpayers.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and other status quo-supporting South Carolina politicians have bet big on Boeing and its Dreamliner – which continues to experience all sorts of problems in the wake of its global grounding last year. Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C. plant has had its share of issues, too – as first reported by FITS back in November.

Originally scheduled for launch in 2008, the Dreamliner was three years late due to numerous technical and supply chain issues. Since taking flight, it has been plagued by numerous problems – most notably an issue with its lithium ion batteries that resulted in several planes catching on fire.


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Smirks March 8, 2014 at 6:09 pm

It isn’t SC’s fault, but don’t let that stop you from bashing Boeing coming here.

Seen Too Many March 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Just like an odd-lotter, he’s always fighting the tape. The mark of a born loser.

Squishy123 March 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

This is going to get interesting, once composites start cracking they usually develop a pattern, since the majority of the skin on this aircraft is composite this could be a huge problem because it’s not likely a single part that’s going to be affected.

CNSYD March 8, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Aerospace engineer Sic Willie gives us the latest technical information from his scientific mind in the article. However, composites have been used in aircraft for many years. (See SR-71) It is hardly a brand new technology. So Sic Willie, what NDT was used to locate these “cracks”? Where EXACTLY are they located? Etc.

euwe max March 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Boeing said the 787 cracks occurred in shear ties on wing ribs, and will take one to two weeks to inspect and fix.

Wing ribs run parallel to the fuselage of the plane. The ties, made of aluminum, hold the rib to the skin of the wing and will be replaced with an aluminum part.

“If we find an affected area, we’ll correct the issue by trimming out the area and applying a fabricated piece in its place,” Alder said.

Boeing declined to discuss the manufacturing change that led to the problem. Mitsubishi wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Mr. Nobody March 9, 2014 at 3:19 am

“However, composites have been used in aircraft for many years. (See SR-71) It is hardly a brand new technology.”

The SR-71 was 85% Titanium & 15% Carbon….my guess is that the Dreamliner is no where near that for cost reasons(and gov’t projects don’t suffer those problems for the most part if the votes are there).

Anyone happen to know EXACTLY what the composite is for the Dreamliner? A quick google only tells me it’s “carbon-plastic” which obviously would have no where near the structural integrity of titanium & carbon.(and Boeing might very well not release the composite details for competitive reasons)

Being a motorcycle aficionado I always watch carbon fiber structures with interest in the motorcycle world. Ducati just recently gave up on their attempt. Britten did it successfully, but not before suffering a structural failure that hurt one of his riders and his methods would be difficult to replicate in production.

Of course, there’s also carbon wheels…but they aren’t ready for general use either…just open class racing under controlled conditions.

I remain very skeptical of the long term durability of carbon composites and designing for daily air travel is a major step beyond even high level auto racing.

The SR-71 was a maintenance nightmare…and ostensibly used better materials than Boeing is trying to utilize now. Maybe technology has progressed to make it possible…or maybe they just over reached like Ducati.

Only time will tell.

CNSYD March 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Don’t disagree. I also think you are correct that Boeing is not going to hand out proprietary info. My point of using the SR-71 was to illustrate that the idea of using composites (regardless of their composition) is not a “new” idea. You could even say that fiberglass, e.g. boats and Corvettes, is use of composites.

euwe max March 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The cracks were caused by shear ties on wing ribs made out of aluminum. The flaw was in the shear ties on the wing ribs, not in the composite material.

Mr. Nobody March 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Apparently there is both an issue with the shear ties and the composite according to this article:


It seems the shear ties are causing hairline cracks in the composite, but if I read the article right it seems like they are ongoing issue with hairline cracks outside of the shear tie issue as well.

Mr. Nobody March 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

edit: “they” to “there”

euwe max March 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I read the article in your link carefully.

I did not see the reference to ongoing problems with hairline cracks in the 787. They mentioned Airbus, but those were fatigue cracks after many years in service.

The hairline cracks that the article is focused on, are caused not by fatigue, but by stress induced by over-tightening of the fasteners to the shear ties on wing ribs made out of aluminum without the use of manufacturing fillers. This indicates it is not a failure of the composite to meet its rated strength, but a problem due to over-tightening without use of manufacturing fillers. The rated stress acceptable by the composite was exceeded by failure to use manufacturing fillers, not by flight, or normal stress.

The change in the process seems to be changing the requirement to use manufacturing fillers when the fasteners are tightened.

Once the fasteners have been tightened – the “over-tightened” fasteners have already caused the hairline cracks in the composite. They pointed out that the biggest problem was in the second rib, but that it may also occur on other ribs as well.

Of course, any composite that has these cracks has to be trimmed off, and replaced (presumably with the same composite).

So the conversations in this topic concerning the composition of the composites are focused on a red herring.

Mr. Nobody March 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Yes, you are correct-it was Airbus. Thank you!

TontoBubbaGoldstein March 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm Reply
CNSYD March 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm

As a primary Delta traveler, CNSYD has flown on numerous MD-88s as they are the “work horse” of the Delta fleet. Back when I was “Medallion” status I was usually upgraded to 1st class. If you are close enough you can hear all the conversation of the pilots and ground crew prior to the door being closed. Plenty of times there are conversations about spurious warning signals that almost always turn out to be in error. Since you are on the ground, it is obviously easy to go look and check/test where the alleged problem is. It was a very rare occasion if something had to be “fixed”. So on a plane series that started service in 1980, there are still “problems”. Also notice the use of words like “reported” in the 787 article.

GrandTango March 9, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Hey guys: what if one of these planes crashed filled w/ people…and thousands of South Carolinas lose their jobs…and Nikki Haley is blamed…Now you can bet FITS would get his Rocks Off on that…

Clue: a product in the development process is not Perfect…and ironing out wrinkles does not make FITS look smart. FITS’ praying for disaster, so he can use it to attack his political and social enemies, makes FITS look like a piece of $#!* though….

Native Ink March 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm

A 787 flying across the Pacific had to make an emergency landing today in Hawaii. Not a good day for Boeing.

Mike March 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

Will sits up at night praying for one of these to crash so he can blame Nikki Haley. Will don’t fret, I saw a BMW in a crash last night. You can start writing your article blaming that on Carroll Campbell. How dare these people try to bring industry into SC.


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