New whistleblower raises concerns about Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating new allegations from a longtime Boeing engineer that fuselage sections of the company’s 787 Dreamliner planes are loosely fastened together and could weaken over time – raising concerns that to the fact that after years of operation, the plane could break up in mid-flight.

Sam Salehpour, a Boeing quality engineer, said Tuesday that in its effort to meet production goals, the company had taken shortcuts, such as failing to follow its own procedures to ensure that parts of the Boeing’s fuselage The aircraft were correctly adjusted and assembled. He also described cases where workers put “undue stress” on a plane’s major joints to make it appear like there was no gap. This allowed the company to speed up the manufacturing process, but at the risk of reducing the lifespan of airliners, Salehpour said.

After raising his concerns, Salehpour said he was ignored and faced retaliation, including threats of physical violence from a supervisor. In January, several weeks after the Alaska Airlines crash, he raised his concerns with the FAA.

“I love my job at Boeing and the opportunities I have been given,” Salehpour said during a briefing with reporters. When asked why he was stepping forward, he said, “I want Boeing to succeed and avoid accidents.” »

“Voluntary reporting without fear of retaliation is an essential part of aviation safety,” the FAA said in its statement. “We strongly encourage everyone in the aviation industry to share information. We investigate all reports thoroughly.

Boeing objected to Salehpour’s claims, saying it had full confidence in the 787 Dreamliner. He also said retaliation is strictly prohibited at Boeing.

“These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the long-term quality and safety of the aircraft,” the company said in a statement. “The issues raised were subjected to a rigorous technical review under the supervision of the FAA.”

Boeing also said it identified concerns about the proper assembly and assembly of fuselages in 2020 and temporarily halted delivery of most planes for nearly two years. In August 2022, the FAA approved the fix developed by Boeing and allowed the company to resume deliveries of the 787 and continue production.

Salehpour is scheduled to testify next week at a hearing before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In a letter sent to Boeing last month, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) requested Boeing’s cooperation in their review of Salehpour’s allegations as well as the testimony of Boeing’s chief executive, David Calhoun.

Boeing said it was “cooperating with this investigation,” adding that it had offered to provide documents, testimony and technical briefings, and was in discussions with the committee regarding next steps.

Salehpour’s allegations are another blow to a company struggling to salvage its reputation following a January crash in which part of a 737 Max plane exploded mid-flight. This incident gave rise to multiple investigations and an independent investigation examination of its culture, with initial findings painting a picture of a company that has failed to deliver on its commitments to prioritize safety after fatal crashes involving 737 Max planes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Boeing has reshuffled its executive ranks to try to respond to criticism. Calhoun recently announced he would step down at the end of the year, while Stan Deal, the head of the company’s commercial aircraft division, announced his retirement after decades at Boeing. The company’s chairman, Larry Kellner, also announced he would not seek reelection.

Separately, the company faces an FAA-mandated deadline in May to develop a plan to address quality control and quality assurance issues in its manufacturing operations.

Salehpour began his career at Boeing in 2007 as a contractor before becoming a full-time employee. As a quality engineer, his job involved monitoring Boeing’s production operations, investigating and analyzing defects and developing strategies to prevent them from happening again, according to his attorney Debra Katz.

But after raising his concerns with his superiors, Salehpour said he was excluded from key meetings and was ultimately involuntarily reassigned to the company’s 777 aircraft program. There, he said, he also encountered problems, including cases where workers forced misaligned parts together forcibly, even jumping on pieces to fit them together.

In a statement, Boeing said Salehpour’s claims were inaccurate.

“We are fully confident in the safety and durability of the 777 family,” the company said.

Boeing added that it has continued to refine and improve the 787 program since its launch 20 years ago, resulting in higher quality without impacting sustainability. The company said its overall approach to evaluating improvements to its production process “includes and encourages dissenting viewpoints,” adding that its work “has been done with full transparency and oversight of the FAA.”

Lisa Banks, another lawyer for Salehpour, acknowledged that Boeing made some changes to the 787 manufacturing process, but added that they were not enough.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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