A whistleblower says Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is flawed. The FAA is investigating

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Boeing 787 Dreamliners at the airline's North Charleston, South Carolina, assembly plant.



CNN

The central government has said that it is conducting an investigation Boeing A whistleblower claims the company retaliated against him after repeatedly raising concerns about two widebody jet models.

Whistleblower Sam Salepour, a Boeing engineer, alleged that Boeing took shortcuts when manufacturing its 777 and 787 Dreamliner jets, and that the risks could be catastrophic as the planes age. The New York Times A whistleblower first reported the complaint.

His formal complaint to the Federal Aviation Administration, filed in January and made public Tuesday, does not specifically address the new 737 Max jet, which has been grounded twice by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Salehpour said on Tuesday his complaint raised “two quality issues that could dramatically reduce the life of the planes”.

“I'm doing this so that Boeing can fail, but I'm doing it so that it can succeed and prevent accidents from happening,” Salepour told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. “The truth is, Boeing can't continue the way it is. It just needs to do a little bit better, I think.

The FAA has interviewed Salehpour as part of its investigation, said his attorney, Lisa Banks. The FAA said it investigates all whistleblower complaints.

“Voluntary reporting without fear of retaliation is an important component of aviation safety,” the FAA said. “We strongly encourage everyone in the aviation industry to share information.”

A Senate subcommittee will also take up the concerns in a hearing next week.

Boeing did not immediately comment on the claims about the 777, but denied Salehpour's concerns about the 787.

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

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner planes, which entered service in 2011, have a 50-year lifespan — about 44,000 flights each, the company says.

But Salehpour complains that workers assembling the plane failed to properly fill small gaps when assembling individually manufactured parts. That puts more wear and tear on the plane, shortening its lifespan and putting it at risk of “catastrophic” failure, Salehpour's lawyers allege.

The accusations aren't entirely new: For nearly two years, beginning in 2021, the FAA and Boeing Delivery of new Dreamliners has been discontinued When it looked at the gaps. Boeing said it made changes to its manufacturing process, and deliveries eventually resumed.

“We have incorporated an inspection and verification function into our production system so that aircraft coming off the production line meet these specifications,” Boeing said.

The 787 Dreamliners haven't landed, but the FAA has twice investigated questions about quality control during the jet assembly process. The company maintained that the planes were safe to fly.

Salehpour's attorneys said they were surprised the FAA found gaps still an issue through his complaint.

“I literally saw people jumping in to repair pieces of the plane,” Salepour said. “By jumping up and down, you deform the parts so that the holes temporarily align … and that's not how you make an airplane.”

Salepour said Boeing retaliated against him because he raised another concern about the 787 and another aircraft model.

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He pointed out to management that there were drilling issues with the 787, and was then “ignored and ultimately moved from the 787 program to the 777 program,” the whistleblower complained.

In his new role, Salehpour said he discovered side jobs in repairing body parts, and engineers discovered pressure to green light jobs they hadn't yet explored.

In total, more than 400 777s and 1,000 787s have problems, Salehpour said.

Boeing (B.AShares fell 2% on Tuesday.

This is a growing story. It will be updated.

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