The US FAA has opened an investigation into the issue which might delay the certification and delivery dates of Boeing’s 777X jets by about six months.
Several Boeing 777X aircraft are seen in various stages of production during a media tour of the Boeing 777X at the Boeing production facility in Everett, Washington, U.S., February 27, 2019. Picture taken February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
The fuselage of one of Boeing’s new 777X aircraft completely ruptured in pressure tests in September, a previously unreported major setback that could delay the arrival of the long-haul jet to global skies, AFP has learned from informed sources. Already deeply mired in the crisis surrounding its 737 MAX, the premier US aircraft manufacturer now faces fresh difficulties bringing its new line of long-haul jets to market due to the unexpected weakness in the 777X airframe. It was known that a passenger door to the aircraft blew out when Boeing put the aircraft body through pressure tests in September, deliberately taking it to extremes beyond normal operating conditions to ensure the strength of the construction materials. But several sources, who insisted on anonymity, said that the body structure supporting the door also ruptured during the tests.
“There was a structure around the exit door that also blew off during the tests, which means there was a structure failure,” said one of the sources, adding that one of the aircraft’s wings was also damaged in the test. “There was a depressurization of the aft fuselage; the structure that supports the door blew off,” said a second person. “It was not just the door; it’s very serious.” The US Federal Aviation Administration, whose officials oversaw the test, has opened an investigation to determine why the fuselage failed, a regulatory source said. But it was not clear how the incident will impact the certification of the 777X, which is already months behind schedule for introduction into service. Last month Boeing said the pressure test result will not impact the schedule for flight tests for the 777X, required for the aircraft’s certification.