Boeing Whistleblower Wants 787 Fleet Grounded

The issues raised by the engineer have been subject to rigorous examination under FAA oversight, according to Boeing.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner [Credit: iStock]

A Boeing engineer and whistleblower is calling for the grounding of all the more than 1,000 Boeing 787s for an issue the company says has been addressed and signed off on by the FAA.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday night on NBC Nightly News, Sam Salehpour said he’ll tell a Senate committee on Wednesday he believes the aircraft are in danger of coming apart because of out-of-spec gaps where major assemblies are joined.

“The entire fleet worldwide, as far as I’m concerned right now, needs attention,” he told NBC’s Tom Costello. “And the attention is, you need to check your gaps and make sure that you don’t have potential for premature failure.”

Salehpour was an engineer on the Dreamliner program but has since been assigned to work on the 777. He went public with his warning last week, and Boeing was quick to discount it.

“We are fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner. These 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,” Boeing said in a statement last week. “The issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under FAA oversight.”

The improperly shimmed gaps were first found more than five years ago, and the FAA stopped deliveries of the 787 while Boeing came up with a fix. The existing fleet at the time was inspected and repaired, and new aircraft were presumably built to spec.

Salehpour said those repairs were not adequate and there is a danger of fatigue failure. Boeing said the fix has been thoroughly vetted and “these issues do not present any safety concerns” or durability problems. It said it will be on the lookout for problems, noting it encourages employees to “speak up” about any safety concerns.

“Retaliation is strictly prohibited at Boeing,” the statement said. The FAA says it is investigating the allegations.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on AVweb.

Russ Niles
Russ NilesContributor
Russ Niles has been a journalist for 40 years, a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb in 2003. When he’s not writing about airplanes he and his wife Marni run a small winery in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter