Boeing hid safety risks in 'criminal cover-up,' whistleblowers tell Senate

Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Boeing quality engineer and whistleblower Sam Salehpour repeated public assertions offered last week that 787 Dreamliners are at risk of long-term structural failure due to gaps at the fuselage joins and that the 777 widebody jet is also being poorly manufactured.

Boeing on Monday provided journalists detailed briefings and a tour of the 787 assembly facilities in North Charleston, South Carolina, in an effort to allay public worries.

Salehpour rejected Boeing’s assertions, saying management has concealed the safety threat. He described being sidelined, harassed and verbally threatened when he raised his concerns internally over the past three years.

Blumenthal even showed a photo of a bolt driven through the tire of Salehpour’s car, which the engineer said he believed was done deliberately while he was at work at Boeing, though he conceded he couldn’t prove that.

“I have analyzed Boeing’s own data to conclude that the company has taken manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 program that may significantly reduce the airplane safety,” Salehpour testified.

Former Boeing manager Ed Pierson described a culture of ignoring safety risks at Boeing and failed oversight by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration that he said has led to a litany of system failures aboard U.S. airline jets, though nothing yet with catastrophic consequences.


Pierson first raised safety concerns about manufacturing of the 737 Max before the first deadly Max crash in Indonesia in 2018.

And although the primary cause of both that crash and the one that followed just over four months later in Ethiopia was a software design error, Pierson insists manufacturing errors contributed to it and that the Max is still unsafe.

At the hearing, Pierson raised the stakes by accusing Boeing of criminally hiding evidence by failing to produce documentation on the work to install the fuselage panel that blew off the Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5.

Boeing has said there are no records that identify who removed and incorrectly reinstalled that fuselage panel in September.


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