New FAA Investigation Into Boeing 787 Maintenance: Falsified Records Reported

On Monday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a new investigation into potential manufacturing quality lapse on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was opened following an admission from 

Boeing that inspection records on work at the wing-to-body join were reported to be falsified by a whistleblower at their South Carolina assembly site. Boeing indicated that this does not create an immediate flight safety issue.

787 vice president and general manager at Boeing’s North Charleston assembly plant, Scott Stocker, personally thanked the employee who initially highlighted the problem. He said, “It’s critical that every one of us speak up when we see something that may not look right.”


FAA Investigation Follows Employee Misconduct

In April, Boeing informed the FAA that the company may not have completed compulsory inspections confirming adequate bonding and electrical grounding where the wings join the fuselage body on some of its Boeing 787s. Stocker then advised Boeing employees on April 29 that one employee had noticed what seemed to be an irregularity in a required 787 conformance test and had spoken up about it internally. The person’s manager informed executives of the lapse.

On reviewing the report, Boeing found out that several people had not been performing the compulsory test, yet recorded the work as having been completed, violating Company policies. While the engineering team assessed that this misconduct, they said it didn’t create an immediate safety issue in-flight but will impact their customers and factory suppliers, as the test must now be conducted on airplanes in the build process out of sequence.

Employees were informed that Boeing has a zero-tolerance policy for not following processes designed to ensure quality and safety. He also advised the FAA. Boeing is taking serious and swift corrective action with multiple teams.

The FAA confirmed that they have started an investigation into the completion of Boeing inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records.


Recent Boeing Maintenance Concerns

The FAA’s updates on the Boeing 737-9 MAX Aircraft in March confirmed a six-week audit of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems was completed. The audit was prompted by a mid-air emergency on January 5 on a new Boeing 737 9 MAX aircraft, and the FAA found several instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements. Boeing was given 90 days to outline an action plan.

A criminal investigation is being conducted by the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the 737-9 MAX incident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also indicated four key bolts seemed to be missing from the plane, while Boeing said it believes required documents detailing the removal of the bolts were never created.

At the congressional hearing, a Boeing quality engineer who testified recently criticized some of the manufacturing practices on the 787 and 777 widebody programs. The latest 787 quality concern is not related to the 787 fuselage gaps reported by Boeing whistleblower Sam Salehpour.

The FAA will, as always, take any necessary action to ensure the safety of the flying public. Boeing’s Stocker also confirmed they will be meeting with several teams to discuss what they’re doing to ensure the incident doesn’t reoccur.

In April, the FAA issued a statement confirming they require Aviation Organizations to detect and address safety risks early and implement a Safety Management System (SMS) with a structured, repeatable, systematic approach to identify airplane hazards and manage safety risks proactively.

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