Boeing under investigation over whistleblower response – BBC.com

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Boeing under investigation over whistleblower response – BBC.com

  • By Natalie Sherman
  • BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

A Boeing engineer told US lawmakers he was harassed and threatened after raising concerns about the safety of the company’s planes.

Whistleblower Sam Salehpour said Wednesday that his boss reprimanded him during a 40-minute call and that his tire was punctured by a nail.

His claims will be examined as part of a congressional investigation into the manufacturing giant’s security.

Boeing said it was cooperating with the investigation.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the whistleblower hearing, one of two hearings Wednesday in Washington focused on the company’s problems.

The company has been in crisis since part of the body of a new Boeing 737 Max 9 flown by Alaska Airlines broke apart after takeoff in January.

Passengers escaped serious injury, but the incident led to thousands of flight cancellations and renewed scrutiny of Boeing – which previously had to ground the 737 Max 8 after fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. who killed 346 people.

The hearing featured three whistleblowers who have become among the company’s most high-profile critics, including a former safety official at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who chaired the hearing, said his committee would investigate the safety culture at the company. Mere announcement of the hearing prompted other whistleblowers to come forward, he said.

“This story is serious, even shocking,” he said. “There are growing serious allegations that Boeing has a broken safety culture and an unacceptable set of practices.”

He said it was a “moment of reckoning” for Boeing and promised further hearings involving Boeing itself.

A preliminary government investigation into what happened on the Alaska Airlines flight found that the part that exploded was missing bolts. The company is now the subject of a criminal investigation, among other charges.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board criticized Boeing and accused it of failing to fully cooperate with the investigation.

Another witness at the hearing, former Boeing executive Ed Pierson, now executive director of the Aviation Safety Foundation, accused Boeing of a “criminal cover-up,” saying he personally shared documents relating to to the missing bolts with the Federal Aviation Safety Bureau. Investigation (FBI).

“There are real problems at Boeing that need to be fixed,” Sen. Ron Johnson said, while emphasizing pressure from all sides to keep the jets flying.

“We all want Boeing to succeed,” he said. “People don’t want to take the actions that might be necessary here. I think it’s just a terrible reality.”

Mr. Salehpour, who has worked at Boeing for 17 years, raised his concerns with the FAA in January and made them public earlier this month.

They are focusing on the Boeing 787, a larger plane that was not the one involved in the Alaska Airlines flight or previous fatal crashes, but which has been plagued by manufacturing problems.

He said the parts making up the plane’s body were not assembled properly, which could increase the risk of failure over time.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was investigating the allegations, which Boeing disputed.

Mr. Salehpour, who cried at one point, said he felt compelled to speak out, thinking of a ride-share buddy who had worked on the Challenger shuttle and whose concerns had been ignored. The shuttle exploded in flight in 1986.

He said Boeing moved him to a different job and made it harder for him to attend things like doctor’s appointments.

Salehpour said he had “no evidence” that the nail in his tire was related to Boeing, but he believed it happened while he was at work.

“This is the hell I was subjected to,” he said.

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