By Ann Roosevelt

Boeing [BA] employees coiuld be back on the job as soon as today at Boeing’s H-47 Chinook helicopter production plant in Ridley Park, Pa., which has temporarily shut down the line due to what the company called possible manufacturing irregularities in two aircraft.

“We anticipate that normal production will resume shortly, the Army said in a statement late yesterday. “This will have no impact in the CH-47F fielding schedule.”

On May 13, 2008, two CH-47F aircraft–the newest version of the helicopter–were found damaged on the Boeing Chinook production line.

As expected, under standard procedures on the line, employees went immediately to management and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)–which oversees all government contracts at the plant. Procedures call for a thorough investigation of the incident to determine the extent of it, precluding what the company can say at this time.

DCMA is currently overseeing the Boeing-directed standard procedure to cease production until the cause of the damage is identified.

The Army said: “The DCMA and the product managers for the Army’s CH-47F and the Special Operation’s MH-47G Chinook are conducting an investigation and additional inspections of all the aircraft on the production line to ensure that there are no other irregularities. At present, this is thought to be an isolated incident, confined to these two aircraft.”

A Boeing spokesman said: the investigation “affects no aircraft that have been delivered. This is something employees caught on the line and this is what they are expected to do.”

“The incident demonstrated that the extensive aircraft inspection procedures are effective in identifying potential issues while the aircraft are in the factory,” the Army statement said.

May 14, Boeing directed second and third shift employees on the primary and final production line not to report for work. This decision affected about 60 employees, around 50 on the second and approximately 10 on the third shift.

Boeing is cooperating fully with investigating agencies to make ensure complete resolution of the matter.

Boeing produces the CH-47F Chinook and MH-47G Special Operations Chinook for the Army, Special Operations Command, and the armed forces of several other nations.

The program currently is modernizing the Army’s Chinook fleet to the F- and G-model configurations and also producing new CH-47Fs.