(TFC) – Unknown specifications in aluminum parts used to construct Boeing 787 Dreamliner wings could ground the Charleston South Car. manufactured aircraft. Boeing is rushing to verify the safety of several of their aircraft after learning wings made in Japan, by Mitsubishi Industrial, may have been manufactured using substandard aluminum provided by Kobe Steel, the Japanese company that recently admitted to falsifying test data on 20,000 tons of aluminum and copper.
The official statement by Boeing downplays the safety concerns.
“Boeing has been working closely and continuously with our suppliers since being notified of the issue to ensure timely and appropriate action, nothing in our review to date leads us to conclude that this issue presents a safety concern.”
A source within Boeing with direct knowledge of the 787 Dreamliner manufacturing process, who asked to remain nameless, does not rule out the possibility of safety issues presented using unverified aluminum.
“Boeing will have to have to remove and replace every part from Kobe; no part can be installed on a Boeing plane without documented material or manufacturing processes, if an uncontrolled part is installed it jeopardizes the airframe and life of an aircraft,” said the source. “I do not have knowledge of all suppliers on the 787 wings; however, the wings are made in Japan by Mitsubishi Industrial. If these parts from Kobe are installed on the 787, it will at a minimum require an inspection of every 787 in service and worst case grounding the entire fleet of 787’s.”
While it is unclear how much, if any, of the tainted Kobe supplied aluminum is used in the 787 Dreamliner’s wings, or what action the manufacturer will take to ensure the safety of their aircraft, Boeing will be looking to send the bill to Kobe Steel.
The scandal came to light on Oct. 8, when Kobe Steel admitted that it had falsified data on many of its aluminum, copper and steel products.
The iconic Japanese corporation admitted to falsifying test data on four types of metals; 19,300 tons of aluminum sheets and poles; 19,400 aluminum components; 2,200 tons of copper products and an unspecified amount of iron powder. Kobe Steel said products used by about 200 companies were certified with falsified data. In addition to Boeing, affected companies include; Toyota Motor Corp, Central Japan Railway, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor Corp and Subaru Corp.
While the situation is unfolding, as of now, no deaths or injuries have been attributed to faulty metals sold by Kobe Steel, the 787 Dreamliner has had engine problems in the past that could be attributed to faulty aluminum.
The Japanese airline ANA refurbished all 100 Rolls-Royce engines, a process that could take up to three years, on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet after three engine failures in 2016 caused by corrosion and cracking of turbine blades. In July of 2012, while conducting a pre-flight test, sparks from a 787 Dreamliner’s ignited a grass fire, closing Charleston International Airport for more than an hour.
This report prepared by R.S. Marlow via 7513 Media Lab.