Wing flaws found in C-17 cargo jet

September 24, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

A Pentagon investigation has found serious defects in th wings of the McDonnell Douglas C-17 cargo jet, potentially the most severe problem yet in the long-troubled program.

The flaws, which were revealed in a report obtained yesterday by the Los Angeles Times, have prompted questions about the safety of the aircraft. Remedying the problem also would significantly boost the program's cost and further delay its production.

Thousands of rivets that hold each wing together were $l improperly installed, the report found.

The Air Force plans to buy 120 C-17s for an estimated $40 billion. The program is already about $1 billion over budget, a cost borne so far by McDonnell, and development of the C-17 is more than a year behind schedule.

Potential safety risks resulting from the wing flaws and the cost to remedy the defects are not known, but the government is "not protected" financially and needs urgently to conduct testing to determine the extent of the problem, according to a memorandum to Air Force officials attached to the inspector general's report.

The investigation found that the quality standards for the C-17 did not comply with government requirements and that manufacturing procedures were "not followed and in some instances confusing or nonexistent." It also found that quality control data was "missing or incomplete."

A McDonnell spokesman said that the company "could not comment on a report that we haven't seen."

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