Italian Authorities Go After Boeing 787 Parts Supplier

By Spyros Georgilidakis | December 24, 2021

Prosecutors are investigating an Italian company that produced non-compliant parts for the Boeing 787 over several years, as a subcontractor.

Boeing has faced a number of issues with the production of the 787. The main crux of the problem relates to the manufacturing and bonding of composite sections of the aircraft. Boeing first became aware of the issue and notified the FAA about it in the summer of 2020. With the MAX crisis then still ongoing, this brought the 787 under new scrutiny.

Italian Authorities Go After Boeing 787 Parts Supplier

Deliveries of the aircraft stopped soon afterwards. Then in October 2021, the manufacturer notified the FAA about this new issue, relating to 787 parts from an Italian subcontractor. The company is called MPS (Manufacturing Process Specification). However, it appears that some of the parts in question came from its bankrupt predecessor, called Processi Speciali.


Italian Prosecutors Identifying 787 Parts

The Italian company (and its predecessor) produced these flawed 787 parts between 2016 and 2021. It appears that the company was supplying these parts to Leonardo, a major contractor in the 787 program. MPS also appears in contractor lists for Airbus. However, when this story broke in October, Airbus was quick to state that MPS no longer produces parts for them.

Italian Authorities Go After Boeing 787 Parts Supplier
Photo: Air Canada

According to Italian prosecutors, MPS produced 4,189 flawed parts for the 787 program. Some of these parts went from them to Boeing through Leonardo. Others made it to the jets through Spirit Aerosystems, a US-based contractor. These are titanium components, not all of which have actually made it into aircraft.

But Boeing and the FAA have established that the non-conforming MPS parts made their way into 35 787s. According to an Italian report, these 787 parts consist of “titanium and aluminium of different quality and origin” than what the specifications called for. Boeing has stated that the parts do not present an immediate threat to air safety.


Not Just About The 787?

Something that we didn’t know previously is that the Italian subcontractor made parts for both the 787 and the 767. However, there is no indication that parts for the latter were non-conforming. Boeing continues to make the freighter version of the 767. The plane is also the basis for Boeing’s KC-46 air refuelling tanker. This is another program that has seen more than its fair share of snags, in the past few years.

Italian Authorities Go After Boeing 787 Parts Supplier

Italian authorities seek to establish that these 787 parts are not an immediate threat to safety. The investigation involves eight individuals, involved in MPS or Processi Speciali, or both. Separately, Leonardo has filed a lawsuit about the same matter. Prosecutors are viewing Leonardo as the injured party in the investigation.

MPS appears to be a coatings company. Previously, it seemed that the issue involved faults in the processing of the parts it supplied to other companies in the supply chain. But it now seems that the source of the parts is also called into question. These are small components, including fittings like spacers, brackets and clips, within larger sub-assemblies.


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