May 26, 2024


A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Photo: Stephen Brashear (Getty Images)

Ahead of his testimony before the Senate Wednesday, Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour gave an interview to NBC News once again sounding the alarm about issues he found with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner plane. He alleges that the model has fuselage flaws that could cause it to rip apart mid-air due to problems with how the metal skin is affixed to the rest of the aircraft.

“I think it’s as serious as I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” he told the network’s Tom Costello, adding that he thinks Boeing should pause production of the plane.

When asked if he would put his own family on a 787 Dreamliner, he answered, “Right now, I would not.” He thinks the entire global fleet should be grounded and inspected. According to Boeing’s latest annual report, that’s more than 1,100 planes.

Boeing has had a tumultuous year because of safety issues. A door plug blew out on an Alaska Airlines 787 Max 9 in January, and since then the company has been under increased scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration, which found after an initial investigation that the planemaker “did not provide objective evidence of a foundational commitment to safety that matched Boeing’s descriptions of that objective.” The Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into the incident, and the company has been hit with a number of passenger lawsuits, one of which is seeking $1 billion in damages. CEO Dave Calhoun announced last month that he will be stepping down at the end of the year.

Salehpour has previously said that when tried to bring the 787’s issues to the company’s attention, he was “threatened with physical violence” and “threatened with termination” before being reassigned to work on the manufacturer’s 777 model, where he also found issues. Boeing has said that intimidation is “strictly prohibited” and that it stands by both the 787 and 777.

In previous statements to the New York Times and to Reuters, Boeing says that “claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft” and that it is “fully confident” in its products. But if the issues are as severe as Salehpour says, that would bring a dark cloud over 98% of the manufacturer’s current order backlog.

Boeing shares were flat in early Wednesday trading, but they are down nearly 35% this year.



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