Another Boeing Whistleblower Comes Forward

Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour alleges possible safety concerns with the 787
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2024 4:24 PM CDT
It's Only Tuesday, but Boeing Is Having a Pretty Bad Week
The Boeing logo is seen, Jan. 25, 2011, on the property in El Segundo, Calif.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Bad headlines weren't the only thing plaguing Boeing in Q1. Quartz reports the quarter was marked by poor deliveries as well—the company's fewest since 2021. Just 83 planes were delivered to customers over the January to March period, down from 157 in the last quarter of 2023, as it deals with the aftermath of its January door-plug incident. "This was supposed to be Boeing's year, when it finally put its last 737 Max crisis behind it" and started bumping its rate of production up to 50 of those planes a month. It's currently tracking at a little more than half of that—and troublesome headlines are following the company into the second quarter. The latest:

  • A whistleblower: The New York Times on Tuesday reported on allegations made by Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour in interviews with the paper regarding the 787 Dreamliner's structural integrity.
  • The allegations: Salehpour, a quality engineer who says he has been with the company for more than a decade, dates the problems to changes in how massive sections of the fuselage that are made by different manufacturers are fitted and fastened together on Boeing's line. The upshot is that he thinks it's being improperly done and could result in the plane breaking "apart mid-flight after thousands of trips," as the Times puts it.

  • Specifics: In a letter from his lawyers to the FAA, Salehpour alleged that in 2021 Boeing "used a higher-than-recommended level of force to shimmy gaps in 787 fuselages to speed production," as the Wall Street Journal puts it. In some places, he said, minor gaps weren't shimmied at all, according to internal reports.
  • Fallout: Salehpour's lawyers say Boeing forced him out of the 787 program and onto the 777 program after he voiced his concerns. They say they then threatened to fire him after he noted issues with the 777.
  • Outside interest: The FAA is investigating, and Salehpour is set to appear on Capitol Hill on April 17.
  • Boeing's stance: Boeing tells the Times its thorough testing has led it to conclude "this is not an immediate safety of flight issue ... Our engineers are completing complex analysis to determine if there may be a long-term fatigue concern for the fleet in any area of the airplane. This would not become an issue for the in-service fleet for many years to come, if ever, and we are not rushing the team so that we can ensure that analysis is comprehensive."
  • The markets' view: Boeing stock is trading down about 2% for the day; it's nearly 30% down YTD.
(Another Boeing whistleblower apparently took his own life last month.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.