'Airbus clearly has the advantage now:' Expert explains lasting effects of Boeing's issues

An aviation expert says Boeing’s recent incorrectly drilled hole issue is not a big manufacturing concern, but it is a massive public relations nightmare as the company continues to receive negative headlines.

FOX 13 News obtained a letter from Boeing detailing its latest issue. The letter states someone drilled the wrong holes into dozens of 737s. This mistake could delay the delivery of about 50 planes.

"Every 737 fuselage has something in excess of 100,000 holes that have to be drilled to put the airplane together. So, if you find two holes that are mis-drilled fractionally, it’s almost infinitesimal," said Scott Hamilton, an aviation expert who works as a journalist and consultant for the Leeham Company.

He says while the issue may be small for manufacturing, for public relations it only adds to the continuing trouble for the company this year.


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"The last thing that Boeing needs is another black headline about the 737 Max," he said. "Every instance of an anomaly or an incident with Boeing’s name on the side of the airplane is going to generate more black headlines for Boeing for an indefinite period of time," Hamilton added.

He says that could lead to stock prices dropping and customers not feeling safe on planes. 

Several airline CEOs have already expressed their lack of confidence in Boeing. 

"Airbus clearly has the advantage now. Airbus is investing in research and development at a rate that is substantially higher than Boeing is investing in research and development right now. Airbus is ramping up its production without having to go through these pauses that Boeing is going through," he said.

Following the incident of Alaska Flight 1282 where the door blew off an in-flight plane, the Federal Aviation Administration restricted Boeing’s monthly 737 production to 38.

The company hoped to be making 42 planes a month at this time of year.

Hamilton says Boeing has a long way to go to get back to the top.

More Boeing coverage here.

"They have to convince the FAA, the airlines, and the traveling public that their planes are safe to fly on again," said Hamilton.

Boeing has not responded to our request for comment.