Latest Boeing Whistleblower: ‘The Plane Will Fall Apart’

Boeing logo | Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The latest Boeing engineer to come forward as a whistleblower has said the entire 787 fleet worldwide should be grounded and claimed he faced retaliation from his former employer.

Boeing quality engineer Sam Salehpour testified this week before the U.S. Senate, exposing further alleged instances of the airplane giant ignoring major quality control issues that he says could lead to the planes falling apart in the skies.

Earlier this week, Salehpour, who worked at Boeing for 17 years, told NBC News that the entire 787 jet fleet, numbering over 1,000 planes, needed to be grounded and inspected for thousands of improperly fastened fuselage parts.

Asked what would happen if an aircraft experienced a fatigue failure of its fuselage “at altitude,” Salehpour said, “The plane will fall apart at the joints.”

Testifying before the Senate, Salehpour said: “In a rush to address the bottlenecks in production, Boeing hit problems, putting 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 said that when he reported the defects, they were “not properly addressed 98.7% of the time.”

During his testimony, Salehpour also discussed issues with misaligned parts during the 777 line’s manufacture.

“Boeing manufacturing used [an] unmeasured and unlimited amount of force to correct the misalignment, and this also weakens the airplane in the long run,” he said. “I literally saw people jumping on the pieces of the airplane to get them to align. I call it the Tarzan effect, among other improper methods.”

Rather than thanking him for alerting them to these critical safety issues, Salehpour claimed, his Boeing bosses berated and intimidated him.

“I was sidelined, I was told to shut up, I received physical threats,” he alleged. He added that his boss told him, “I would have killed someone who said what you said.”

A statement from Boeing broadcast by NBC News asserted, “We are fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner because of the comprehensive work done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft. These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate.” Per NBC, the company also insisted retaliation is strictly prohibited, and pointed to its “Employees Speak Up” program, which encourages workers to come forward with concerns.

Salehpour is not the first former Boeing employee to blow the whistle.

As The Dallas Express reported at the time, John Barnett, an ex-quality control manager at Boeing’s South Carolina plant, alleged that Boeing had been compromising on inspections for years to fulfill airplane deliveries on time.

Barnett was days into giving deposition testimony about his findings when he was found dead in his truck. Authorities pronounced it a suicide, though his coworkers at Boeing were unconvinced that Barnett would take his own life.

The Department of Transportation disputes that there is a safety crisis in the nation’s air travel. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has touted the overall safety of American aviation compared to the rest of the world.

However, DX found that the National Transportation Safety Board opened more investigations into aviation incidents involving Boeing planes in 2023 than it has since 2000. Theories as to why include a cultural shift at Boeing away from recruiting for engineering competency and towards MBAs and JDs focused on maximizing profits and promoting DEI principles, as reported by DX.

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