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FAA Opens Yet Another Investigation Into Safety Practices at Boeing After Workers Accused of ‘Misconduct’ Over Skipped Safety Tests

FAA Opens Yet Another Investigation Into Safety Practices at Boeing After Workers Accused of ‘Misconduct’ Over Skipped Safety Tests

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened yet another investigation into safety practices at the beleaguered aircraft manufacturer Boeing after the company accused workers on the 787 Dreamliner production line of misconduct after the allegedly skipped some conformance testing.

In an internal memo which has since been released publicly, Boeing’s vice president of 787 Dreamliner production, Scott Stoker, attempted to reassure passengers and airline customers that the skipped tests do “not create an immediate safety of flight issue”.

After facing accusations of bullying and attempting to silence safety whistleblowers, Bowing now says it ‘celebrates’ employees who come forward with safety issues. As per the memo:

“I want to share an important message about a teammate who saw something in our factory that he believed was not being done right, and spoke up about it. We will use this moment to celebrate him, and to remind us all about the kind of behavior we will and will not accept as a team”, Stoker wrote.

The memo continued: “The teammate saw what appeared to be an irregularity in a required conformance test in wing-body join. He raised it with his manager, who brought it to the attention of executive leadership.”

Worryingly, the ‘irregularity’ was not an isolated incident.

“After receiving the report, we quickly reviewed the matter and learned that several people had been violating Company policies by not performing a required test, but recording the work as having been completed,” Stoker wrote. “As you all know, we have zero tolerance for not following processes designed to ensure quality and safety.”

Stoker says Boeing is not taking “swift and serious corrective action”.

Last month, a new whistleblower went public, claiming that Boeing factory workers were forced to jump on airplane panels to make them fit because they were so misaligned.

Sam Salehpour, a veteran aerospace engineer at Boeing, raised serious safety concerns with both the 787 Dreamliner and 777. Salehpour warned that early 1,000 Dreamliners could be at risk of premature fatigue damage and structural failure because workers learned how to cheat a key safety test.

The claims centre on an issue with tiny gaps at the joins of the fuselage section. The problem was so serious that the FAA halted deliveries of 787s in 2020 while Boeing worked on a fix.

Boeing was allowed to resume deliveries in August 2022, but Salehpour alleges that rather than fixing the issue, Boeing simply hid the problem.

Salehpour claims that Boeing would allow 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.

As a result, special filler pieces known as shims that are meant to fill in the gaps weren’t inserted on some aircraft. Salehpour believes this has been going on since 2012 and continued even after the FAA’s intervention in 2020.

Over time, Salehpour fears that unfilled gaps could cause excessive wear and potentially a “catastrophic failure”.

In response to the claims, Boeing created a special website to defend the safety of its 787 Dreamliner, saying that the company is “fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner because of the comprehensive work done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft.”

View Comment (1)
  • Boeing does not need to worry about safety testing their planes if they maintain the right corporate banking relationship. Should they physically loose any customers from faulty planes, a bank like Wells Fargo can materialize new customers right out of thin air.

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