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Aviation

Boeing reports 'cracks' in factory Dreamliner planes

Aircraft maker Boeing has said technicians found hairline cracks in some of its Dreamliner planes currently under production. The company says it is confident that in-service aircraft are not affected.

Boeing announced on Friday that it had found hairline cracks in the wings of some 787 Dreamliner airplanes that are currently being assembled.

But, while the company admitted the fault would lead to production delays, it said there was no wider safety issue.

The Chicago-based manufacturer said it was completing inspections of some 40 planes that were potentially affected by the problem. However, it said, the cracks were not believed to affect planes currently being flown by airlines.

"We are confident that the condition does not exist in the in-service fleet," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said in an email. "We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplane."

Boeing was initially notified about the problem by the manufacturer of the wings itself, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, according to the AFP news agency. The Japanese firm had reportedly found that "a change in their manufacturing process may have led to hairline cracks in a number of shear ties."

No long term hold-ups

Shear ties are attachment fittings that form part of the rib of a wing, connecting the framework with the wing skin. The company did not give a deadline for the checks to be complete. However, while Boeing said short-term delays to production could be expected, it predicted that all orders due for this year would be delivered on time.

Boeing outsourced much of its work on the 787s to other companies to save on production and development costs. The relatively lightweight twin-aisle planes use 20 percent less fuel than similar-sized aircraft.

However, numerous snags have beset production, with delivery delays and the grounding of some aircraft in operation.

Most notably, in April last year, 787 Dreamliners across the globe were grounded because of overheating batteries. While engineers said they the cause was unknown, the batteries, chargers and containment casing were redesigned.

rc/av (AFP, AP)

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