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New Boeing whistleblower alleges serious structural flaws on 787 and 777 jets

Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

A Boeing quality engineer went public Tuesday with damaging allegations that the jet-maker took manufacturing shortcuts to increase production rates that leave potentially serious structural flaws on its 787 and 777 widebody planes.

The Boeing engineer, Sam Salehpour, alleged that almost 1,000 787s and about 400 777s currently flying are at risk of premature fatigue damage and structural failure.

On January 19, lawyers for Salehpour wrote a letter detailing his allegations to Mike Whitaker, head of the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency said Tuesday it is investigating the claims.

“We thoroughly investigate all safety reports,” said FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor.

Salehpour will speak next week at a Senate hearing convened by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., “to examine Boeing’s broken safety culture, focusing on firsthand accounts.”

Boeing said it is in discussions and will cooperate with Blumenthal’s committee and has “offered to provide documents, testimony, and technical briefings.”

 

Salehpour spoke in a virtual news conference with his lawyers Tuesday. His lawyers said documents will be presented at the Senate hearing to substantiate his allegations.

Boeing, facing rising public alarm about multiple safety issues, responded with a detailed rebuttal to the 787 allegations.

“We are fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner,” Boeing said. “These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate.”

Boeing said extensive testing and analysis, shared with the FAA, has shown that the issues raised by Salehpour “do not present any safety concerns and the aircraft will maintain its service life over several decades.”

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