Boeing Hit With More Whistleblower Allegations Over Alleged Safety, Quality Control Failures

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
April 9, 2024US News
Boeing Hit With More Whistleblower Allegations Over Alleged Safety, Quality Control Failures
Boeing employees assemble 787s inside their main assembly building on their campus in North Charleston, S.C. on May 30, 2023. (Gavin McIntyre/Pool via Reuters)

A Boeing engineer turned whistleblower has claimed that the company repeatedly dismissed safety and quality control concerns during the production of its 787 and 777 jets. This reportedly prompted an investigation by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Sam Salehpour, a veteran Boeing engineer with more than four decades of experience, worked on the jets, according to his lawyers in a Tuesday press release.

During this time, Mr. Salehpour observed Boeing using “shortcuts” to reduce bottlenecks throughout the 787 assembly process, his lawyers alleged, adding that those shortcuts placed “excessive stress on major airplane joints, and embedded drilling debris between key joints on more than 1000 planes.”

“These errors in the manufacturing process significantly reduce the lifespan of the plane and may be difficult to identify,” his lawyers said.

After raising these concerns, Mr. Salehpour was involuntarily transferred from the 787 program to the 777 program, his lawyers say.

Meanwhile, senior officials at Boeing “retaliated” against him, “threatened him with termination” and excluded him from important meetings, projects, and communication after he raised the concerns, according to his legal team.

During the 777 program, Mr. Salehpour also raised additional safety concerns regarding the application of the Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB) and Determinant Assembly (DA) processes that resulted in “significant misalignment between parts, which may affect at least 400 777 series airplanes,” his lawyers said.

The Boeing engineer also claimed to have observed the planemaker “pressure liaison engineers to continue production despite the presence of unexamined defects,” according to his lawyers.

“Rather than heeding his warnings, Boeing prioritized getting the planes to market as quickly as possible, despite the known, well-substantiated issues Mr. Salehpour raised,” attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said. “The engineering problems identified directly affect the structural integrity of Boeing’s 787 and 777 planes and unless corrected will impact the entire aviation industry and all who fly.”

Engineering Issues ‘Will Impact Entire Aviation Industry’

The latest claims come as Boeing remains under widespread scrutiny following a mid-air blowout on an Alaska Airlines-operated flight, involving a Boeing 737 MAX 9, in January.

That incident led to the temporary grounding of all 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft worldwide while the FAA conducted safety inspections. Boeing was also banned from expanding 737 MAX production and ordered to develop a comprehensive plan to address “systemic quality-control issues” within 90 days.

Boeing is also being investigated by the Justice Department over whether or not the company violated a 2021 settlement allowing it to avoid prosecution in the wake of the two fatal MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Last month, John Barnett, another whistleblower who had been involved in a lawsuit against Boeing, was found dead from what officials said appeared to be “a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Boeing denied Mr. Salehpour’s allegations in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it is “fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner.”

“These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“The issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under [Federal Aviation Administration] oversight,” and “do not present any safety concerns,” the company added.

NTD Photo
A gaping hole where the paneled-over door had been at the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 7, 2024. (National Transportation Safety Board via AP)

Boeing CEO to Testify

Boeing also noted that the planemaker slowed production in 2021 and 2022 and halted deliveries for nearly two years after it identified issues with the plane.

“For the in-service fleet, comprehensive Boeing and FAA analysis determined there is no near-term safety of flight concern,” Boeing said. “Based on the analysis and any future inspection, the 787 will maintain its strength, durability, and service life.”

However, the FAA is now reportedly probing Mr. Salehpour’s claims, according to The New York Times.

The publication noted an agency spokesperson confirmed the investigation but declined to comment further.

In a separate statement to Axios, an FAA spokesperson said the agency investigates all reports it receives.

“Voluntary reporting without fear of reprisal is a critical component in aviation safety,” the FAA spokesperson said. “We strongly encourage everyone in the aviation industry to share information.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the FAA for further comment.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that a Senate subcommittee has summoned Boeing CEO David Calhoun to testify regarding its alleged safety-related issues following Mr. Salehpour’s claims.

The panel told the publication it will hold a hearing next week and will also call on Mr. Salehpour to provide testimony, noting that Boeing’s alleged actions could “potentially catastrophic safety risks.”

Boeing shares fell over 2 percent on Tuesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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