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“In fact, they are producing defective aircraft”

In a hearing before the US Senate, a Boeing engineer pointed out significant safety deficiencies. The senators demanded an improved safety concept from the US aircraft manufacturer.

Claudia Sarre

Sometimes it's an engine cover, sometimes it's a torn-out cabin door. The technical problems have recently increased at Boeing – and also concerned the US Senate in Washington on Wednesday.

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour repeated his massive accusations against the aircraft manufacturer in front of senators. “In fact, they are producing defective aircraft,” said the whistleblower. In order to speed up production, among other things, significant errors were tolerated during the assembly of fuselage parts of the long-haul 787 Dreamliner. “I witnessed serious assembly errors in assembling the aircraft. I saw assemblers jumping around on the aircraft to make parts fit. This was just one of many improper methods.”

“No culture of safety”

Salehpour explained that gaps between aircraft parts larger than 0.127 mm must be closed according to the specifications. However, these gaps were not closed on almost 1,500 aircraft. This could lead to premature material fatigue and thus a catastrophe, says Salehpour.

“I have repeatedly expressed my concerns within the company. I have been sidelined, I have been told to keep my mouth shut, I have been physically threatened,” the whistleblower said. “This is not a culture of security” if you are threatened because you have security concerns, Sahlepour continued.

A former Boeing engineer also testified before the Senate committee. Ed Pierson left the company in 2018, shortly before two Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashed. At that time, 346 people died. “The world is shocked by Boeing's current production quality problems. I'm not surprised because nothing has changed after the two crashes. There has been no accountability, not a single Boeing employee has been put in prison.”

Boeing denies allegations

Boeing rejected the current allegations about the 787 Dreamliner. The machines were checked thoroughly and no defects were discovered. And the aviation regulator FAA also stated that the aircraft met the required safety standards.

US senators demanded that the aircraft manufacturer urgently improve its safety culture. “This confirms that we need to look at what Boeing is doing, not just what it claims to be doing. Boeing says safety is the company's top priority. Yet when asked to provide evidence of this, Boeing – I quote – no objective evidence of a fundamental commitment to security,” said Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Because of the constant breakdowns, Boeing is coming under increasing pressure. The company has already taken personnel steps. CEO David Calhoun announced that he would step down by the end of the year.

Claudia Sarre, ARD Washington, tagesschau, April 18, 2024 6:33 a.m

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