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Boeing 787 employees falsified inspection records; FAA opens probe

Lapse doesn’t create ‘immediate safety’ issue, company says

By Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times
Published: May 6, 2024, 5:35pm

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it has opened a new investigation into a potential manufacturing quality lapse on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after Boeing admitted that inspection records on work at the wing-to-body join were falsified at the jet’s final assembly site in South Carolina.

Boeing informed the FAA in April that on some 787s the company may not have completed required inspections to confirm adequate bonding and electrical grounding where the wings join the fuselage body.

“The FAA is investigating whether Boeing completed the inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records,” the federal safety agency said via email.

Boeing said its engineers have established that the lapse does not create “an immediate safety of flight issue.”

On April 29, Scott Stocker, 787 vice president and general manager at Boeing’s assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, sent a message to all employees there telling them that one employee had noticed what was going on and spoke up about it internally. His manager informed executives of the lapse.

“After receiving the report, we quickly reviewed the matter and learned that several people had been violating Company policies by not performing a required test, but recording the work as having been completed,” Stocker wrote.

“Our engineering team has assessed that this misconduct did not create an immediate safety of flight issue. But it will impact our customers and factory teammates, because the test now needs to be conducted out of sequence on airplanes in the build process,” Stocker added.

Stocker told employees in the message that Boeing has “zero tolerance for not following processes designed to ensure quality and safety.”

He said Boeing promptly informed the FAA and is “taking swift and serious corrective action with multiple teammates.”

Stocker also praised the employee who first flagged the problem.

“I wanted to personally thank and commend that teammate for doing the right thing,” his message states. “It’s critical that every one of us speak up when we see something that may not look right.”

Stocker’s message concluded by saying that he will “be meeting soon with a number of teams to discuss what we’re doing to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The FAA said Boeing is inspecting all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet.

“As the investigation continues, the FAA will take any necessary action — as always — to ensure the safety of the flying public,” the FAA wrote.

This new 787 quality concern is unrelated to the 787 fuselage gaps described as unsafe in an April Congressional hearing by Boeing whistleblower Sam Salehpour.