Boeing Whistle-Blower Details His Concerns to Congressional Panel

A Boeing engineer who went public last week with safety concerns about the company’s 787 Dreamliner told a Senate panel on Wednesday that he was concerned that shortcuts the company was taking would eventually lead to a crash if they continued unchecked.

The engineer, Sam Salehpour, testified that in an attempt to address bottlenecks, Boeing introduced production shortcuts with the potential to lead to planes breaking apart during flights. Mr. Salehpour said that the company was knowingly putting out defective planes and that he was punished by his superiors for raising his concerns.

“I have analyzed Boeing’s own data to conclude that the company is taking manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 program that could significantly reduce the airplane’s safety and the life cycle,” Mr. Salehpour told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigations subcommittee.

“Details that are the size of a human hair can be a matter of life and death,” Mr. Salehpour said.

Mr. Salehpour, who has been at Boeing for over a decade, said the problems resulted from changes in how sections of the Dreamliner were fastened together during the manufacturing process. Boeing has acknowledged that manufacturing changes had been made but said that the durability of the airframe was not affected, and the company has continued to express confidence in the plane and its safety.

“Extensive and rigorous testing of the fuselage and heavy maintenance checks of nearly 700 in-service airplanes to date have found zero evidence of airframe fatigue,” Boeing said in a statement issued before the hearing, adding that the company was “fully confident in the safety and durability” of the plane.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said that the panel did not want Boeing to fail but added that the company needed to be held accountable.

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