More Issues for Boeing? The 787 Whistleblower

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The Boeing 787 Assembly Line in Renton, Washington

The Whistleblower
This morning, news about an FAA probe into Boeing’s 777 and 787 program broke. Whistleblower Sam Salehpour, a Boeing engineer, alleges that Boeing took shortcuts when manufacturing its 777 and 787 Dreamliner jets, and that the risks could become catastrophic as the airplanes age. The New York Times was first to report the whistleblower complaint.

According to Salehpour, 787 assembly workers failed to fill in tiny gaps in the fuselage, which he claims could lead to catastrophic failures down the road. Salehpour also claimed that the 777 had issues with the wing assembly, however in the model’s introduction into commercial service in 1990, no problems like this have presented themselves.

“I am doing this not because I want Boeing to fail, but because I want it to succeed and prevent crashes from happening,” Salehpour told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “The truth is Boeing can’t keep going the way it is. It needs to do a little bit better, I think.”

After this announcement, Boeing’s stock fell 2%.

This comes just months after the safety of the 737 MAX was called into question yet again, when an Alaska Airlines MAX 9 suffered a catastrophic failure of it’s door plug, which the FAA alleges is due to poor manufacturing and inspection practices by Boeing.


What are your thoughts on this?

https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/09/business/boeing-787-whistleblower/index.html

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That’s definitely something to be concerned of, however I feel like this could be mildly exaggerated. I think the more likely thing going on currently is that Boeing is slightly not adhering to the FAA rules-the FAA does not force all airlines to keep “fuselages perfect”, cause that would mean no non-white paint, airplanes have to be retired after just a few years, and other unnecessary acts that would bring the entire American aviation industry down. Minor faults are allowed by the FAA, it’s just that in this case Boeing has gone a bit too far.

Still, this shows how the predicted chain of events after the 737 crashes a few years ago is creating a “domino-like” effect, and at this stage all we can do is sit back and watch for more updates.

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I’m not that familiar with the specifics, but I wonder if this article from 2007 is talking about the same problem, and indicating this was a known and addressed issue.
Boeing finds 787 pieces aren’t quite a perfect fit | The Seattle Times

And it seems the following implies the FAA was closely involved in the inspections(?): IT’S Back!! But What was Actually WRONG With the B787?! (youtube.com)

Claims from the whistleblower and his lawyer may provide some clues for consideration:
"Salehpour’s lawyers also said he was excluded from meetings and excluded from travel opportunities with his team. He also faced poor performance evaluations, Salehpour’s lawyers alleged. "
"His lawyers also claimed that Salehpour had been “threatened with physical violence” and “continues to face threats.”
(I’m not quite sure how to weigh that info. Translation: My gut feel is flashing yellow.)
Boeing Whistleblower Claims Company Took Shortcuts (skift.com)

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Similarly to what I said about Boeing’s CEO resigning, I surely hope that with new management comes major improvements to the company.

I don’t really hold a grudge against Boeing - I like a lot of their aircraft. It would be a shame to have another mark against their record with some of their long-haul aircraft, and I would certainly hate to see the company eventually get shut down or something.

As for this very topic, it’s very disappointing that a company with work as important as this would do things like this to save money, and yet risk the safety of future passengers. For Boeing, it really stinks that all of this is coming out just after the MAX has been rediscovered to have yet more issues with it, and I don’t think that the company will catch a break for a long time. For passengers and airlines that use Boeing aircraft, it sucks, because you lose trust in a company for not doing its one and only job thoroughly - to make a safe aircraft that can transport people safely from Point A to Point B. It is a really sad world we live in, where almost everything is about the money. People are too concerned about being wealthy, and not remotely concerned about how to go about doing so in a way that won’t put others at risk of injury, or worse.

I would say that Boeing’s CEO resigning contributes nothing to the situation. It is merely a ceremonial action done to try to convince people who think that all this is because of one or more individuals. In reality, there will always be more to come, and I doubt that Boeing’s CEO would willfully give up the company to someone who will just reverse everything. Now, the new management will definitely pay attention more to safety, but that’s only because the entire world is eyeing them.

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I’m going to have to go ahead and politely disagree with you here on this one. I think that, despite having said that almost everything is about the money, if someone with a good heart and good intentions takes over the company, it can become reputable for the good manufacturer that they’ve been since 1916. If, however, someone that’s only in it for the money takes over, regardless of if the world is watching or not, we will see little to no improvement in the company for the next several years to come.

Again going to have to politely disagree with you here, but why not? As long as the former CEO is making money from selling the company, and he no longer has any part in what events or accidents may transpire at the factory or onboard on of their aircraft, he will be happy.

Now this I can agree with you on. I think that regardless of if the world is watching them or not, it needs to be done. Otherwise, the company is shown as neglectful and unfit for consumers to use them (airlines and passengers)

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Boeing is a massive company, and as such, a CEO stepping down does not mean total removal from the company, unless the issue is big enough to be viewed as almost “criminal” actions. The CEO’s inner circle will probably continue with their current plan, albeit now changed a bit because of all this drama.

I can totally agree with you on that regard. However, with the right management, I think that within maybe a year, Boeing could go back to the great aircraft manufacturer that it has been known for. If the management knows how to, well, manage properly, some of those people will not be overlooked and rather removed from the company accordingly. Not all of them will be, but ideally, enough to make a positive, noticeable, and impactful change to the company.

If this news article is in fact, totally true (not exaggerated), then this would mean that corruption in Boeing has been happening for many decades now. I doubt all that could be reversed quickly, even in a year or two, and that the entire company will shift from a corrupt, greedy corporation to an evangelistic, “safety-comes-first” idealist.

I guess that another thing that should be considered about the issue that I’m sure (gee, I hope) is already being considered - if it’s just now coming out that there are potential problems with aircraft with the 777 family and the 787 family, which, historically speaking (they haven’t been around long enough to have many notable accidents), have been incredibly safe aircraft, and people have flown on them without even giving it a second thought, what about aircraft like the 757, or the 767, or even the 747? Any aircraft from any manufacturer always has a minuscule chance of coming with defects that may go undetected for several years of successful operation, but I feel like for Boeing, it’s far more likely to see.

I suppose my point is, maybe Boeing should temporarily halt ALL aircraft manufacturing until they can settle this chaos out. Because otherwise, history could just be repeating itself in a decade, maybe more, maybe less…

In other words, Boeing ceases to exist? Halting manufacturing, even for a month, will be destructive, and who’s to say they can carry out checks across the world? In the U.S.A. it’s possible, but there are countries who couldn’t care less now that they have the airplanes. And if the airplanes do have crashes and accidents in those unchecked countries, Boeing will still be to blame.

Hopefully, Salehpour doesn’t end up like… the previous whistleblower.

The quote below from an article on this issue, by the respected aerospace reporter with the Seattle Times, Dominic Gates.

“Based on the previous fuselage testing up to 165,000 cycles and Boeing’s extensive data gathering, testing, modeling and analysis from 2020 to today — shared transparently with the FAA — Boeing currently expects these issues will not change or affect the expected lifespan of the 787 fuselages,” Boeing said Tuesday.
New Boeing whistleblower alleges serious structural flaws on 787 and 777 jets | The Seattle Times

That’s what Boeing says-fishy-but at the same time, kinda shows that this whistleblower guy may be exaggerating the real situation. I suspect that Boeing has only minorly tweaked the FAA’s safety regulations.

The facts do seem to increase the possibility:

They would be held accountable for saying

if it were not true. And the lawyers talking about “threats of violence:” Anything is possible, but some things are more or less likely than others.

Corrpution has been happening for a long time unfortunately.

imho, aircraft manufacturers should not be given the authority to self-inspect/self regulate and certify their own aircraft as airworthy. It should either be left to an independent third party contracted by the FAA, or by the FAA themselves.

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In this case I was under the impression that the FAA inspectors were in there regularly checking where this issue arises during the manufacturing process. Though this needs to be confirmed to make sure if that’s really true.

I say with confidence I will not be stepping on a Boeing ever. I don’t care if it “wasn’t effected” or has been “fixed”. I wish Boeing bankruptcy and all these aircraft early retirement and proper recycling. I don’t care that I love the design or they held sentimental value with me before this is normal, everyday, totally unassuming and probably hating that they have to fly in the first place, innocent people put at risk for the sake of Boeing’s greed and spite.

Things just keep spiralling down for Boeing 😂. Maybe it’s the end for them. Airbus will be laughing at all this right now. Just think the same manufacturer that made the queen of the skies the B747 and revolutionised the way people see aviation is the same company that couldn’t fill a few holes in their planes. I’m loosing respect for them now

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Time to start looking at home security options.