Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates reported this afternoon that structural gaps in the 787's horizontal stabilizer have forced the imposition of a reduce operating flight envelope on the five 787 flight test aircraft.
Here's my complete story on the horizontal stabilizer, which explains the problem in a bit more depth and why the improper shims and over-torqued fasteners are a problem for long term fatigue.
This is not the first time Alenia, who makes the horizontal stabilzer in Foggia, Italy, has had issues with its quality control processes. Almost exactly a year ago, Boeing halted production in Gottaglie where Sections 44 and 46 are produced, following the discovery of wrinkles created during manufacturing.
Boeing maintains that despite a decision not to fly again until the inspections are complete, the 787 fleet is not formally grounded, as the operating limitations will enable test flights to continue if problems are discovered. As you can see from the photo above, 787s on the flight line have already been prepared for the inspections with the removal of the elevators.
Photo Credit Liz Matzelle