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Boeing Whistleblower Says Company’s Entire Fleet ‘Needs Attention’ Recommends All 787 Dreamliner Planes Be Grounded

Published: April 21, 2024
Boeing engineer and whistleblower Sam Salehpour gestures while testifying before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations hearing titled "Boeing's broken safety culture, focusing on firsthand accounts" at the U.S. Capitol on April 17, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Image: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

On April 16, Sam Salehpour, a Boeing engineer turned whistleblower, told NBC News’ Tom Costello that all of Boeing’s 787 jets need to be grounded due to “fatal flaws” and that the entire fleet “needs attention.”

His comments came one day ahead of his testimony before Congress where he told lawmakers that he fears parts of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner planes could break apart in mid-air and that when he raised concerns with the company’s management, over a three year period, he was ignored and alleges he was physically threatened by his bosses for speaking up. 

Salehpour, who worked for Boeing for over a decade as a quality engineer, said parts of Boeing’s 787 and 777 jets were misaligned during production, creating safety threats and that he observed “shortcuts employed by Boeing to reduce bottlenecks during the 787 assembly process.”

He testified that these shortcuts could “significantly” reduce the lifespan of the jets due to metal fatigue and would eventually cause an accident with deadly consequences.

“The entire fleet worldwide, as far as I’m concerned, right now, needs attention,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t put his own family on a Boeing 787.


Boeing denies claims 

Responding in writing to questions posed by Business Insider, Boeing said it was “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,” the company wrote.

“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. We continue to monitor these issues under established regulatory protocols and encourage all employees to speak up when issues arise. Retaliation is strictly prohibited at Boeing.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it has opened an investigation into Salehpour’s claims.

Salehpour’s comments come after John Barnett, another Boeing Whistleblower, was found dead in his truck in the parking lot of the South Carolina hotel where he was staying after testifying in court against Boeing.

Authorities initially described his death as a potential suicide.

However, Barnett’s death is now being treated as suspicious. According to his attorneys, Barnett showed no indication that he would take his own life and was in good spirits after providing testimony. 


An extraordinary claim

One extraordinary claim Salephour made at the hearing was that he witnessed workers struggling to bridge joints in the planes’ mechanisms and that they would use blunt force to assemble the parts. 

“I literally saw people jumping on pieces of the airplane to get them to align,” he said, adding that, “I call it the Tarzan effect.”

Boeing says the claim is “inaccurate” and reiterated that they believe their planes to be safe. 

Lisa Fahl, vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said workers jumping on plane parts is “not part of our process.”

“The issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under [Federal Aviation Administration] oversight,” the company said last week.

However, according to Salehpour’s lawyers, Salehpour observed assembly process issues on more than 1,000 planes.

The assembly process placed “excessive stress on major airplane joints, and embedded drilling debris between key joints on more than 1,000 planes,” his lawyers said, according to the Daily Mail. 

On April 15, Boeing officials said that they found no instances of airframe fatigue on nearly 700 in-service Dreamliner jets that have been subject to intense maintenance inspections.

“All these results have been shared with the FAA,” Steve Chisholm, Vice President and Chief Engineer for Mechanical and Structural Engineering, said.