FAA Launches Investigation Into Boeing Whistleblower Claims

(RightWing.org) – Scandal-plagued airplane manufacturer Boeing has a new headache, as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigators probe claims of a safety issue with the company’s flagship 787. A whistleblower says new construction methods used in the plane are potentially unsafe. Boeing says everything’s fine.

Boeing is one of the largest and most successful airplane manufacturers in the world, but for the last five years, the company has been hit by problem after problem. First, its new 737 MAX model was grounded after two fatal crashes. There’s been a string of quality control incidents, one of which involved a door panel falling off in-flight because Boeing workers forgot to bolt it to the plane.

A whistleblower at the company was found dead on March 9 with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Now another whistleblower says there’s a potential safety issue with Boeing’s most advanced aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

The 787’s fuselage is built from sections of composite material. These are made by different subcontractors and then assembled into complete fuselages at Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina, factory. Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour says the sections aren’t all a perfect match for size — and Boeing has changed the way it fastens them together.

Salehpour says the way they are connected could cause fatigue and lead to fuselages coming apart in the air after a large number of flights. Boeing admits it’s changed how it assembles the sections, but insists there’s no risk.

It seems the FAA isn’t convinced. Salehpour is due to appear at a House hearing on April 17, but he’s already been interviewed by FAA investigators. The agency’s administrator, Mike Whittaker, has released a statement warning that “This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing,” and warned that the company has to “commit to real and profound improvements.”

Right now the FAA is focused on how the door plug fell off the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX in January and whether the company’s quality control was to blame. However, the interview with Salehpour means they’re widening their probe to take in the 787. Allegations about sloppy manufacturing at Boeing are being taken seriously, and that’s going to pile pressure on the company.

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