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55 Boeing Dreamliners 'have potential' problem

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787 Dreamliner. A Boeing photo

SINGAPORE (AFP): Boeing said today, around 55 of its flagship 787 Dreamliners "have the potential" to develop a fuselage shimming problem, but reiterated that the fault was being fixed.

Shims are used to fill in space between parts and industry publication Flightglobal has reported that improperly joined pieces had caused "parts of the aircraft's carbon fibre structure to delaminate".

The discovery of the issue in early February is the latest snag to hit the showpiece but troubled jet, which suffered extensive production delays.

"In all the airplanes that we built, up to airplane 55 in round numbers have the potential for the shimming issue," said the aviation giant's vice president Jim Albaugh at a media roundtable in Singapore.

"It's very fixable and we are in the process of fixing the airplanes that are in flow, there is not a safety or flight issue on the airplanes that we've delivered and this is a long term issue that has to be addressed," he added.

Boeing has previously said the problem arose because "incorrect shimming was performed on support structure on the aft fuselage" of some 787s.

"It's something that we can address in a short period of time. It will impact some short-term deliveries but in terms of the number of deliveries for the year, it shouldn't have any impact at all," Albaugh said.

Albaugh said any softening in airplane demand if the global economy tanks as a result of European and US economic woes, would be an opportunity for Boeing to clear their backlog of orders, rather than a severe financial setback.

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