Helena Lyng Blak
2 weeks ago

Boeing Faces Yet Another Investigation

FAA probes Boeing after alleged falsification of inspection reports on 787 Dreamliner.
arashaqar / DepositPhotos.com
arashaqar / DepositPhotos.com

On Monday, May 6, 2024, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it has opened a probe into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

The investigation was brought on by the planemaker in April, informing the FAA that some employees at a South Carolina assembly plant had falsified inspection reports, according to the Seattle Times

The employees had allegedly committed misconduct by saying they had completed certain inspection tests on the 787 Dreamliner’s bonding between wings and fuselage (the plane’s body), which had, in fact, not been completed.

Boeing’s Difficult Year

This is far from the first time Boeing has landed in controversy and agency inquiry this year. 

In 2024, incidents involving the airplane maker’s commercial models seem to have been piling up like never before, starting with an incident on an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5, where a door plug on a Boeing 737 Max blew out mid-flight. 

At the time, now deceased whistleblower John Barnett told ABC News Australia that “Once you understand what's happening inside of Boeing, you'll see why we're seeing these kinds of issues. This is a Boeing issue, this is not a 737 issue.”

These cases have led to several inquiries into Boeing and particularly the company’s quality assurance. 

In early March, the US Justice Department (DoJ) opened an investigation into the January 5 incident. 

Only a few days later, reports revealed that after a six-week probe by the FAA, Boeing had failed 33 out of 89 audits with 97 instances of alleged noncompliance.

The 787 Whistleblower 

Then, in April, 2024, a new whistleblower emerged claiming that the production of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner also faced inadequate safety measures and quality assurance.

A Boeing engineer, whistleblower Sam Salehpour, claimed that the 787’s fuselage was not properly secured and could break apart mid-air after thousands of trips–a number of trips that is entirely realistic for a commercial plane to make.

According to Vox, Salehpour claimed he tried to bring the issues to the company’s attention, but was disregarded, saying “I was sidelined. I was told to shut up. I received physical threats. My boss said, ‘I would have killed someone who said what you said in the meeting.’”

At the time, Boeing denied Salehpour’s allegations, saying in a statement that, “We are fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner because of the comprehensive work done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft. These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate.”

“The Bare Minimum”

It is worth noting that Salehpour’s safety concerns are unrelated to the newest issues, now being investigated by the FAA. 

Nevertheless, Salehpour’s lawyers Debra Katz and Lisa Banks have responded to the fresh claims of misconduct, stating,

“Today’s reporting again revealed that Boeing has zero credibility when it comes to assuring the public that safety is at the heart of company operations. Boeing acknowledges a tremendous breach in engineering protocol occurred, but takes no responsibility for the culture it created that led its workers to falsify records. Rather, by reporting an employee’s concerns to the FAA, Boeing is now congratulating itself for doing the bare minimum to respond.”

What Now?

Boeing’s shares have struggled throughout the year, with a 29.16% decrease year-to-date.

In late March, Boeing announced plans of a major leadership overhaul with President and CEO Dave Calhoun announcing his intent to step down at the end of 2024, Board Chair Larry Kellner informing the board that he would not be standing for re-election at the next annual board meeting, and Boeing Commercial President and CEO Stan Deal will also be retiring from the company.   

In the last week, Boeing’s stock saw a moderate climb, increasing roughly 4%, before a radical drop on Monday afternoon, local time, closing at 0.80% down.

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