Updated April 16th, 2024 at 16:18 IST

Boeing asserts absence of fatigue issues on older 787 aircraft prior to whistleblower testimony

Boeing whistleblower Salehpour alleged safety issues with 787 and 777 assembly before his Senate testimony on the company's safety culture.

Reported by: Business Desk
Boeing | Image:Boeing

Boeing defends integrity: Boeing declared on Monday that it has not detected any fatigue cracks on in-service 787 jets that have undergone extensive maintenance, defending the integrity of its twin-aisle aircraft programme ahead of an upcoming US Senate hearing.

Last week, a whistleblower from Boeing, Sam Salehpour, alleged that the company overlooked safety concerns regarding the assembly of its 787 and 777 jets used for international flights. Salehpour, a quality engineer at Boeing, is set to testify during the Senate hearing regarding the company's safety practices.

Shim safety concerns

Salehpour has raised concerns that Boeing failed to adequately utilise shims, thin materials used to fill small gaps in manufactured products, which could potentially lead to premature fatigue failure in certain areas of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner over time.

These claims, currently under investigation by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), include Salehpour witnessing workers "jumping on the pieces of the aeroplane to get them to align."

Boeing has been contending with a significant safety crisis that has tarnished its reputation following a mid-air panel blowout on a 737 MAX single-aisle plane on January 5.

During a media briefing on Monday, two senior Boeing officials stated that there have been no findings of airframe fatigue amongst the nearly 700 in-service Dreamliner jets that have undergone thorough maintenance inspections after six and twelve years.

Steve Chisholm, Boeing's chief engineer for mechanical and structural engineering, assured, “All these findings have been reported to the FAA.”

Delivery suspension duration

Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787 widebody jet for over a year until August 2022 while the FAA investigated quality issues and manufacturing defects.

In 2021, Boeing acknowledged that some 787 airplanes had shims of improper size and certain aircraft had areas that did not meet skin-flatness specifications.

Lisa Fahl, vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes aeroplane programs engineering, explained that the 787's specifications include a gap allowance of five-thousandths of an inch within a five-inch area, which is equivalent to "the thickness of a human hair."

Fahl dismissed reports of workers jumping on plane parts, stating that such practices were "not part of our process."

Responding to Boeing's statements, Salehpour's attorney, Debra Katz, stressed the importance of independently validating any data provided by Boeing before accepting it at face value.

(With Reuters Inputs)


Published April 16th, 2024 at 16:18 IST