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Congress Asks Boeing CEO to Talk About Plane Safety Due to Whistleblower Complaints

Congress summons Boeing’s CEO to testify on its jetliner safety following new whistleblower charges

The Senate subcommittee has called Boeing CEO David Calhoun to testify regarding safety concerns raised by a whistleblower. The hearing, scheduled for April 17, will feature Boeing quality engineer Sam Salehpour, who is expected to highlight safety issues in the manufacture and assembly of the 787 Dreamliner, potentially posing significant safety risks.

Boeing has not confirmed Calhoun’s attendance at the hearing but stated cooperation with the inquiry, offering to provide documents, testimony, and technical briefings. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating Salehpour’s allegations since February. Salehpour, whose concerns were detailed in a recent New York Times article, is anticipated to describe the retaliation he faced after bringing forward his concerns.

Salehpour expressed alarm over changes to the assembly of the 787 fuselage, citing shortcuts leading to excessive force and deformations in the composite material of the aircraft’s outer skin. Such deformations could compromise the material’s integrity, potentially resulting in premature failure mid-flight, Salehpour alleged. Boeing purportedly disregarded his concerns and transferred him to work on a different jetliner, which he interpreted as retaliation.

Congress Asks Boeing CEO to Talk About Plane Safety Due to Whistleblower Complaints

Congress Asks Boeing CEO to Talk About Plane Safety Due to Whistleblower Complaints (Credits: The National Desk)

Boeing issued a 1,500-word statement expressing full confidence in the 787’s integrity and refuting claims of safety concerns, stating that the aircraft would maintain its service life over several decades. The company emphasized its prohibition of retaliation and encouraged employees to voice concerns when necessary.

Boeing’s safety record has come under scrutiny following incidents such as a door panel blowing out on a 737 Max 9 jet in January. Subsequent investigations revealed missing bolts in the panel, raising questions about Boeing’s safety culture. Both the 787 Dreamliner and the 737 Max have faced production defects, leading to delayed deliveries and shortages for airlines.

Calhoun’s announcement of retirement by year-end follows the departure of another high-ranking Boeing executive and the decision of the board chairman not to stand for reelection in May. These developments underscore the challenges Boeing faces in addressing safety concerns and restoring confidence in its aircraft.

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