Boeing Engineer Says 787 Fleet Worldwide Needs Attention

Sam Salehpour is scheduled to speak to a Senate panel Wednesday about his concerns over Boeing aircraft.

A Boeing engineer said that the company should ground its 787 Dreamliner aircraft worldwide to ensure that the jetliners aren’t showing signs of premature failure.

“The entire fleet worldwide, as far as I’m concerned right now, needs attention,” Sam Salehpour, who had worked on the plane, told NBC News’ Tom Costello in an interview that aired Tuesday. Salehpour added that it’s necessary for the company to “check your gaps to make sure that you don’t have potential for premature failure.”

Salehpour is scheduled to speak to a Senate panel Wednesday and he filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. He previously said that tiny gaps where sections of the Dreamliners’ fuselage are joined did not always meet Boeing’s requirements, potentially compromising the safety of the aircraft.

“I literally saw people jumping on the pieces of the airplane to get them to align,” he told reporters earlier this month, HuffPost reported. “That’s not how you build a plane.”

In recent months, Boeing has made headlines after a January in-flight blowout on a 737 Max 9, which led to hundreds of flights being canceled, and an instance with a 737 Max 8 in March when pedals got “stuck” during landing. In 2018 and 2019, two crashes of 737 Max jetliners killed nearly 350 people.

In an audit of Boeing, as well as of Spirit AeroSystems, the FAA uncovered “multiple instances in which the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements,” HuffPost reported in March.

As such, the FAA granted the companies 90 days to create a plan of action to address the issues.

“These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate,” Boeing said in an emailed statement to HuffPost as it rejected Salehpour’s claims. “The issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under FAA oversight. This analysis has validated that these issues do not present any safety concerns and the aircraft will maintain its service life over several decades,” the company said, adding that it is “fully confident in the safety and durability of the 777 family.”

“I am doing this not because I want Boeing to fail but because I want it to succeed and prevent crashes from happening,” Salehpour, who claims he’s faced retaliation for speaking up, previously told reporters. “The truth is Boeing can’t keep going the way it is. It needs to do a little bit better, I think.”

Last month, Boeing engineer and whistleblower John Barnett was found dead. Barnett was known for speaking up about Boeing safety concerns and had been in the middle of a whistleblower retaliation case before his death.

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