Boeing whistleblower: ‘They are putting out defective airplanes’

Boeing whistleblower: ‘They are putting out defective airplanes’ - Business and Finance - News

Boeing’s Safety Concerns: Whistleblowers Testify About Alleged Defective Airplanes and Suppressed Safety Culture at Senate Hearings

Boeing, a leading aircraft manufacturing company, faced yet another challenging day on Capitol Hill as two Senate committees convened to discuss the company’s aircraft production methods and safety concerns. The witnesses who testified raised serious questions about Boeing’s airplane construction process and the potential risks to passengers.

One of the key witnesses was Sam Salehpour, a Boeing engineer, who bravely came forward as a whistleblower despite facing threats for raising safety concerns in the past. In his opening statement, he expressed deep concern about the safety of Boeing’s 787 and 777 aircraft and was willing to take professional risks to share his insights.

Salehpour claimed that Boeing employed unmeasured and excessive force, including people jumping on sections of jets, to correct misalignment issues between different parts of the aircraft. He stated that this practice resulted in a gap that was significantly larger than the 5/1000th of an inch limit set by Boeing’s own standards.

Boeing did not send any witnesses to either hearing on Wednesday. In a previous briefing, the company defended its standards for building aircraft, emphasizing that the 5/1000th of an inch gap was minuscule – as thin as a human hair or two sheets of paper. Boeing stated that even when the gap was wider than originally prescribed, inspections revealed no signs of fatigue or other issues after years in service.

However, Salehpour discredited Boeing’s assurances, stating that the size of a human hair could be a matter of life and death when flying at 35,000 feet.

Ed Pierson, a former Boeing manager and the executive director of The Foundation for Aviation Safety, testified about the lack of documentation provided to National Transportation Safety Board investigators following a door plug blowout on a Boeing 737 Max flight operated by Alaska Airlines in January. Pierson claimed that this absence of records amounted to “a criminal cover-up.”

Despite Boeing’s recent efforts to search for records, it has yet to provide documentation regarding which employees worked on the door plug that detached due to missing bolts.

Senators from both political parties expressed concerns about the testimony provided during the hearings, with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations, declaring that there were significant and alarming allegations about Boeing’s broken safety culture and unacceptable practices. He mentioned that his committee had received testimonies from other Boeing whistleblowers since the hearing was announced.

Blumenthal emphasized that Boeing was at a critical juncture, facing the consequences of a moment that had been developing for many years. Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also shared concerns about the testimonies and the importance of maintaining public confidence in air travel while acknowledging the need to address these issues.

Boeing had earlier stated that it encourages employees to report safety concerns and that, since the Alaska Airlines incident, they have been doing so in greater numbers. However, both Johnson and Blumenthal acknowledged the importance of listening to whistleblowers’ testimonies and getting to the bottom of these concerns.