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Boeing 787 Dreamliner latest flaw: Cracked wings

Posting in Transportation

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner craft has enjoyed little positive press recently, and now a new safety problem has given the aircraft manufacturer yet another headache.

Boeing is being forced to inspect roughly 40 planes and delay a number of 787 deliveries after the supplier of Dreamliner parts, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, discovered cracks in newly-made carbon fiber wings. 

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According to Boeing, the problem was caused by changes in manufacturing processes. The cracks, however, are very small and only expected to take engineers a week or two per plane to fix.

In an emailed statement, Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said:

"We are confident that the condition does not exist in the in-service fleet. We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it, and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplanes."

The concept of the Dreamliner is one airlines are eager to capitalize on. Lighter bodies, carbon fiber composites and decreased fuel usage all can boost profit margins for firms already fighting against heavy competition and increasing fossil fuel prices. However, the plane has been fraught with problems including poorly-designed battery casings which prompted emergency landings and the grounding of the entire 787 fleet for three months last year.

Despite the fresh setback, Boeing says that the wing problem is not expected to affect its guidance for 2014 Dreamliner deliveries, of which the company has orders for over 1,000 from airlines worldwide.

Read on: Business Week

Image credit: Boeing

— By on March 10, 2014, 6:53 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure