Horst D. Deckert

Boeing Quality Engineer Testifies He Tried Warning Company of Safety Issues With Planes — And Was Silenced


‘They are putting out defective airplanes,’ quality control engineer Sam Salehpour told Senate committee.

A Boeing quality control engineer testified to Congress that he highlighted numerous problems with the company’s 787 and 777 Dreamliner fleet, only to be shut down by his superiors, and thinks the entire fleet of jets should be grounded.

Asked point-blank by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), “Are these planes safe?” engineer Sam Salepour responded, “Right now, I could not.”

“From what I’ve seen, the airplanes are not being built per spec and per requirements,” Salehpour said, adding safety checks aren’t being properly done on older planes for stressed components.

🚨 Boeing quality engineer testifies that he’s been warning the company of safety concerns about their planes for years and was silenced as a result.


— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) April 17, 2024

The engineer claimed he specifically saw the company was not properly filling gaps with “shims” in the plane’s fuselages, which could potentially lead to catastrophic failure.

“Since 2013, there have been serious issues on the 787 program not properly closing thousands of gaps in its assembly of the fuselage on major joints. Boeing’s standard says that these joints, these gaps, must be closed, usually buy a small shim, or filler called the ‘shim’ when they exceed 5,000ths of an inch. This seems very small – Boeing’s PR team like to call it the width of a human hair – but when you are operating at 35,000 feet, details are that the size of a human hair can be a matter of life and death.”

“In a rush to address these bottlenecks in production, Boeing hit problems pushing pieces together with excessive force to make them appear that the gaps don’t exist, even though they exist, the gap didn’t actually go away, and this may result in premature fatigue failure effectively.”

“They are putting out defective airplanes,” he added.

“I want to make clear that I have raised these issues over three years. I was ignored. I was told not to create delays. I was told, frankly, to shut up.”

Salehpour further informed Senate members that after he highlighted the issues, he faced retaliation, including being removed from projects, excluded from meetings, and subjected to harassment by his supervisor.

A Boeing quality engineer and whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, claims managers overlook “𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬” in the company’s airplanes and when he raised concerns to Boeing, he was “𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝, 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭 𝐮𝐩, 𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝… pic.twitter.com/Os139ROD4q

— RedWave Press (@RedWave_Press) April 17, 2024

“At one point, Boeing management got sick of me raising these issues and moved me out of the 787 program into the 777 program,” he said, going on to say he also found problems with those planes, adding he saw “people jumping on pieces of the airplane to get them to align.”

“Again, I raised concerns internally. I was sidelined. I was told to shut up. I received physical threats,” the engineer described, going on to mention one instance in which his boss stated, “I would have killed someone who said what you said in a meeting.”

Salehpour also believed someone at work punctured or slashed his vehicle’s tires while he was at work.

The latest Boeing 787 whistleblower Sam Salehpour had his tires slashed according to @SenBlumenthal https://t.co/vewP0Ukf08 pic.twitter.com/MwKALBLowu

— moe tkacik (@moetkacik) April 17, 2024

The whistleblower told Congress he’s concerned the company could further retaliate against him, but that he’s ultimately at peace for shedding light on the issues.

“It really scares me, believe me, but I am at peace,” he said, adding, “If something happens to me, I am at peace because I feel like coming forward, I will be saving a lot of lives.”

In a comment to NBC, Boeing replied: “These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate. The issues raised have been subject to rigorous engineering examination under FAA oversight.”

Salehpour’s testimony comes as another Boeing whistleblower, former quality control manager John Barnett, was found dead in a hotel parking lot in Charleston, South Carolina, last March, reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Barnett was embroiled in a lawsuit with Boeing and had been raising concerns about problems he observed while working at Boeing’s North Charleston plant, warning the BBC in 2019 that, as a result of hasty mass production, the company’s 787 Dreamliner fleet had numerous safety issues, including that some planes had been improperly retrofitted with “sub-standard” salvaged parts.

Barnett’s attorneys and a close friend of the deceased Boeing whistleblower both alerted media outlets he was not suicidal prior to his sudden death.

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