Examining the Safety Concerns Surrounding Boeing's 787

BATS:BA   Boeing Company (The)
Boeing ( BA ) has asserted that it has not detected any signs of fatigue on the older 787 aircraft that have undergone significant maintenance, as the company defended its twin-aisle aircraft program before a U.S. Senate hearing scheduled for Wednesday. This comes after a Boeing ( BA ) whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, alleged last week that the company had disregarded safety concerns related to the assembly of the 787 and 777 jets operating international routes. Salehpour, who is a quality engineer at Boeing, is set to testify at the Senate hearing on the organization's safety culture.

Salehpour claims that Boeing ( BA ) has neglected to adequately "shim," which involves using a thin material to fill small gaps in a manufactured product, a lapse that could result in premature fatigue failure in certain areas of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner over time. Salehpour's claims, which are being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), encompass observations that he saw workers "jumping on the pieces of the airplane to get them to align."

Boeing ( BA ) has been dealing with a severe safety crisis that has damaged its reputation since a mid-air panel blowout on a single-aisle plane operated by 737 MAX on January 5th.

On a call with journalists on Monday, two senior Boeing ( BA ) executives stated that there were no indications of airframe fatigue among the nearly 700 in-service Dreamliner jets that had undergone significant maintenance inspections after six and twelve years. "All of these findings have been shared with the FAA," said Steve Chisholm, Boeing's chief engineer for mechanical and structural engineering.

Boeing ( BA ) suspended deliveries of the 787 widebody jet for more than a year until August 2022 while the FAA investigated quality issues and manufacturing flaws. In 2021, Boeing disclosed that some 787 airplanes had shims that were not the correct size, and some aircraft had sections that did not meet skin-flatness requirements.

According to Lisa Fahl, vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes airplane programs engineering, the 787, which was introduced in 2004, had a gap allowance specification of five-thousandths of an inch within a five-inch area, or "the thickness of a human hair." She claimed that reports of workers jumping on plane parts were "not part of our process."

Debra Katz, Salehpour's attorney, stated in an email that her client had attempted for years to access data that would address his worries about the safety of gaps in the 787. "Before accepting any data provided by Boeing, it should be confirmed by independent experts and the FAA," Katz advised.

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