New Boeing Whistleblower Claims Certain Planes Could ‘Break Apart’ Midair

Mike Powers
New Boeing Whistleblower Claims Certain Planes Could ‘Break Apart’ Midair

The news for Boeing has been bad lately. Real bad. Ever since the press caught wind of reported safety issues involving the global plane manufacturer’s production process, the company can’t seem to catch a break. After a flight to California lost a part of its hull in January, a seemingly endless string of frightening stories involving the company’s planes have plagued the headlines.

Then, last month, a corporate whistleblower and former longtime employee at Boeing who was in the process of suing the company was found dead in a motel parking lot. Despite the man’s death being dubbed a suicide, the incident spurred conspiracy theories and further aggravated the company’s spiraling public relations crisis.

Now, a new Boeing whistleblower has unveiled himself, and he comes bearing more disturbing allegations. A whole lot of them, in fact.

Former engineer Sam Salehpour, who worked for the company for over ten years, submitted a complaint about his concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration in January. The New York Times was first to report Salehpour’s claims Tuesday, which largely revolve around Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jet. The former engineer says that production changes to how the jet’s “sections were fitted and fastened together in the assembly line” could, after thousands of flights, cause the aircraft’s fuselage to “break apart” in midair.

The Times reports:

Mr. Salehpour, who has worked at Boeing for more than a decade, said the problems stemmed from changes in how the enormous sections were fitted and fastened together in the assembly line. The plane’s fuselage comes in several pieces, all from different manufacturers, and they are not exactly the same shape where they fit together, he said.

So, you know, that’s not great.

Boeing has confirmed that the manufacturing changes Salehpour has cited exist but denies that there is a safety issue involved. A statement sent to the Times asserts that Boeing is “fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner” and that claims of a safety issue are “inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft.”

Salehpour has stuck by his criticisms and is scheduled to appear at a Congressional hearing next week. The Times writes that the whistleblower has been invited to speak at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigations subcommittee on April 17. “I am doing this not because I want Boeing to fail, but because I want it to succeed and prevent crashes from happening,” Salehpour recently told journalists. “The truth is Boeing can’t keep going the way it is. It needs to do a little bit better, I think.”

Gizmodo reached out to Boeing for comment and will update this story if it responds. An FAA representative told Gizmodo: “Voluntary reporting without fear of reprisal is a critical component in aviation safety. We strongly encourage everyone in the aviation industry to share information. We thoroughly investigate all reports.”

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