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Boeing receives criticism from the Senate for lack of quality control

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Former quality engineer at Boeing, Sam Salehpour, tells the senators about quality and safety problems in the production of Boeing’s aircraft. Photo: Kevin Wolf / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 17.04.2024 22:53:08

Policy: The major American aircraft manufacturer has been in crisis since a piece of the fuselage fell off a 737 Max aircraft belonging to Alaska Airlines in January. The plane landed safely as the passengers stared into the air through a gaping hole.

Since then, there have been major changes in the company’s management, the authorities have limited production of the Max planes, and deliveries of new planes have been halved while safety procedures and quality control are reviewed.

The Senate Commerce Committee heard experts behind a report in February describe serious flaws in Boeing’s safety culture, although there have been improvements since all Max planes were grounded for nearly two years after two crashes in Africa and Indonesia that killed 346 people.

During a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, former Boeing engineer Ed Pierson said he forwarded reports to the FBI about a missing plug in the panel that fell off the plane in January, which he had received from an internal whistleblower. But Boeing denies that such reports exist.

He also argued that Boeing has not done enough to improve controls since the two accidents, and that federal aviation agencies have failed to monitor Boeing and ignored problems until the near miss in January.

Sam Salehpour, an engineer who worked in quality control and raised concerns about two other Boeing planes, the 787 Dreamliner and the 777, was told to shut up when he raised his concerns.

– They produce aircraft that are defective, he maintained during the hearing.

Boeing says it has a tolerance of five thousandths of an inch within an area of ​​five inches, which corresponds to the thickness of a human hair. But Salehpour says a hair can be a matter of life and death when flying at 35,000 feet.

Boeing itself claims it has not found fatigue cracks in nearly 700 787 aircraft that have undergone extensive maintenance. They point out that 850 million passengers have flown safely with 787 aircraft, and almost 3.9 million with 777 aircraft.

Outgoing Boeing CEO David Calhoun, who did not appear at Wednesday’s hearings, has said many times that Boeing has taken steps to improve quality, and he called the accident with the Alaska Airlines plane a watershed for the company. But there was a lot of skepticism about that claim in the Senate

– We have to look at what Boeing is doing, not what they say they are doing, says Senator Tammy Duckworth before Wednesday’s hearing.

In the report, they also pointed out that employees who report and raise concerns could be exposed to pressure and retaliation.

Salehpour said he had seen workers jumping on parts of the fuselage of a 777 plane under construction to get the parts to fit together. He also said Boeing failed to fix tiny cracks in the joints during production, and that could lead to metal fatigue much faster than necessary.

Earlier Wednesday, members of the Senate Commerce Committee said Boeing must do more to improve its safety culture following the February report. Committee chair Maria Cantwell says she expects a serious plan from Boeing within the FAA’s 90-day deadline.

(© NTB)

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