Boeing must recheck 200,000 bolts

December 08, 1993|By Seattle Post-Intelligencer

SEATTLE -- Engine struts on at least 700 Boeing 747 and 767 jets have been installed improperly, forcing the company to recheck up to 200,000 bolts on the airplanes and spend millions of dollars in the process.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the Boeing Co.'s manufacturing procedures and reviewing the long-term safety impact.

Boeing and FAA officials said yesterday that the problem does not pose immediate safety concerns for airline passengers.

FAA spokesman Dave Duff, however, said the agency is reviewing the possibility that some of the metal plates in the struts could weaken over time.

A Boeing spokesman said any danger of metal fatigue was several years away.

The problem occurred on the production floor at Boeing's factory in Wichita, Kan., where the struts are produced. Manufacturing instructions given to airplane mechanics left out key specifications on how far to tighten thousands of metal fasteners -- or bolts -- that are part of the engine struts.

Missing were the instructions to use a special torque wrench to tighten the bolts. As a result, up to 200,000 fasteners could have been either tightened too much or not enough.

A Boeing employee who requested anonymity said some of the bolts were overtorqued as much as 150 percent.

The airplanes affected include 300 747 models and 400 767s, built over the last 18 years.

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