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Boeing Creates Special Website to Defend 787 Dreamliner Against New Whistleblower Safety Claims

Boeing Creates Special Website to Defend 787 Dreamliner Against New Whistleblower Safety Claims

a blue and white airplane flying in the sky

The embattled aircraft manufacturer has created a special website to defend itself and the 787 Dreamliner against new safety accusations by a whistleblower who claims that some Dreamliners could have tiny gaps at the joins of the fuselage section, which could lead to a “catastrophic failure”.

Long-time Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour went public earlier this month with his concerns, claiming that as many as 1,000 Dreamliners could be at risk of premature fatigue damage and structural failure.

The accusations center on how Boeing fits together different fuselage sections of the Dreamliner and how tiny gaps are dealt with during the production process.

Tiny gaps are expected during the manufacturing process of a new aircraft, but special filler pieces known as ‘shims’ are meant to be used to fill in those gaps. Shimming will retain the structural integrity of the aircraft over a long period of time, but it’s an expensive and time-consuming process.

Salehpour alleges that to avoid shimming, Boeing allowed the fuselage sections to be pushed together with excessive force prior to measuring if there were any gaps. This process made it appear as if there weren’t any gaps.

Boeing has strenuously denied the allegations and has now gone on the counter-offensive, explaining how its assembles and tests the 787.

The special website does, however, admit that the Boeing was forced to suspend deliveries of the Dreamliner from October 2020 to August 2022 due to safety concerns raised by employees.

“Boeing is fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner because of the comprehensive work done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft,” Boeing said in its defense. “Claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate.”

Addressing the specific allegations that excess force was used to join fuselage sections of the Dreamliner, Boeing said: “There are thousands of different join-up points across the airplane. Boeing has detailed design specifications that define allowable gaps and fit-up force at any given joint.”

“Fit-up forces are the forces applied to parts to ensure they mate up properly prior to any shimming or assembly. This force can vary from join to join and location to location.”

Salehpour fears that unfilled gaps between the fuselage sections could cause excessive wear and potentially a “catastrophic failure”, but Boeing insists that the Dreamliner can safely fly for at least 30 years before requiring a more “conservative maintenance routine”.

Boeing has faced enhanced regulatory oversight of its Dreamliner program following the issues first discovered in 2020, and the airline claims passengers can be confident in the safety of the airplane because of the involvement of the FAA.

The FAA continues to inspect every newly built 787 before it can be delivered to the customer.

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