Claims of safety issues and shoddy work practices have been laid against major aircraft manufacturing company, Boeing, bringing into question the reliability of one of its jets.
A report by The New York Times claimed employees at a Boeing factory in South Carolina were pushed to increase production rates at the risk of making potentially deadly safety oversights.
Boeing has been under intense scrutiny since two of its 737 MAX planes were involved in deadly crashes just months apart, killing over 300 people.
This resulted in countries around the world grounding the best-selling commercial aircraft out of fear another crash would occur.
Now the Times review of internal emails, corporate documents, federal records and interviews with Boeing employees has brought into question the safety of the company’s 787 Dreamliner plane as well.
There have been safety concerns related to one of the factories producing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets. Picture: Paul Joseph Brown/AFPSource:AFP
The investigation claims the facility that makes the 787 Dreamliner is plagued by a “culture that often valued production speed over quality”.
According to the report, numerous safety complaints by workers have been ignored, with some staff even pressured not to report violations to authorities.
Boeing workers have complained of faulty parts being installed in some of the planes, and some aircraft have been taken for test flights with metal shavings and tools left inside the engine or tail.
A technician at the North Charleston plant in South Carolina, Joseph Clayton, told the Times he regularly found debris left dangerously close to wiring underneath the cockpits.
“I’ve told my wife that I never plan to fly on it,” he said.
“It’s just a safety issue.”
Former Boeing quality manager, John Barnett, told the publication he found metal pieces hanging over the wiring that commands the flight controls.
A former Boeing employee reportedly found sharp metal shards hanging over the flight control wiring in some of the aircraft. Picture: Ore Huiying/BloombergSource:Supplied
He said there could be “catastrophic” consequences if the metal pieces were to cut the wires.
There have also been claims several planes that Boeing certified as being free of debris were later found to contain the same metal slivers.
“I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it’s safe and airworthy,” Mr Barnett said.
The decline in standards at the South Carolina factory hasn’t gone unnoticed according to the Times, with Qatar Airways reportedly no longer accepting planes from that plant.
However, the airline reportedly said it “continues to be a long-term supporter of Boeing and has full confidence in all its aircraft and manufacturing facilities”.
Since 2014, the airline has chosen to buy its planes from a different Boeing factory after becoming frustrated by delays and damaged aircraft.
The outlet did point out that despite claims of debris being loose in some of the Dreamliners coming from the South Carolina factory, it hadn’t appeared to have caused any major safety problems and so far the planes had a great safety record.
Parts of a Dreamliner 787 on a production line at Boeing’s final assembly facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. Picture: Travis Dove/Bloomberg NewsSource:Bloomberg
The site leader at Boeing’s South Carolina factory, Brad Zaback, sent an internal memo to employees slamming the Times article as “offensive” and “inaccurate”.
“A story that posted in today’s New York Times, however, paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team here at Boeing South Carolina,” the memo, forwarded to news outlet CNBC by a Boeing spokesperson, read.
“This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumours that have long ago been put to rest.”
Mr Zaback claimed the team at the Times was invited to visit the South Carolina factory so they could “see first-hand the great work that is done” but they declined.
“The allegations of poor quality are especially offensive to me because I know the pride in workmanship that each of you pours into your work every day,” the memo said.
“I see the highest-quality aeroplanes — aeroplanes that meet rigorous quality inspections and FAA standards — deliver on time on a regular basis from Boeing South Carolina, where they perform exceptionally well in service for our valued aeroplane customers around the world.”
The complaints about the South Carolina factory come months after two Boeing 737 MAX planes crashed. Picture: Michael Tewelde/AFPSource:AFP
The memo also included a number of responses Boeing reportedly received from airlines following the article, praising the South Carolina team for their work.
The Times report comes as Boeing prepares to submit a software update for the 737 MAX after two of the aircraft crashed.
Once the software fix is submitted, it will be reviewed and tested by US regulators.
The review is to begin on April 29 and is expected to take 90 days, the Federal Aviation Administration announced.
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