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Boeing faces fresh safety scrutiny amid whistleblower claims

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NEW DELHI: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently looking into allegations made by a Boeing whistleblower regarding safety and quality issues in the production of the company’s 787 and 777 jets, as per an agency spokesperson on Tuesday.

This investigation comes amidst a safety crisis that has tarnished Boeing’s reputation following a mid-air panel incident on a 737 MAX plane on January 5.

The company has undergone significant changes in management, faced production restrictions from US regulators, and experienced a 50% drop in deliveries in March.

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour has raised concerns about the integrity of the widebody 787 and 777 jets, claiming that he faced backlash, such as threats and exclusion from meetings, after identifying engineering problems.

Salehpour’s attorneys stated that Boeing allegedly resorted to shortcuts during the 787 assembly process, compromising the structural soundness of the planes.

This led to a suspension of 787 widebody jet deliveries for over a year until August 2022, while the FAA investigated quality issues and manufacturing defects.

Boeing acknowledged in 2021 that some 787 airplanes had improper shims and areas that did not meet skin-flatness standards.

However, the company maintained confidence in the 787 Dreamliner, asserting that Salehpour’s claims “are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft.”

Salehpour highlighted instances where Boeing expedited the assembly process, resulting in excessive stress on crucial airplane joints and the presence of drilling debris in over 1,000 planes.

Moreover, Salehpour pointed out misalignment problems in the production of the 777 widebody jet, which were reportedly rectified by using forceful methods, including individuals physically aligning airplane components.

Following the FAA’s confirmation of the investigation, Boeing’s shares dropped nearly 2% on Tuesday.

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