AP Photo/Lewis Joly

More Boeing Woes: Employees May Have Falsified Maintenance Records

Boeing Co. has a new crisis to combat. To add to the parade of dead whistleblowers, 10 more whistleblowers stepping up, fuselage falling from the sky, and Max 9 dangers, an investigation by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed employees may have falsified records in order to hide shortcuts taken in the maintenance of the wing attachment.

The company disclosed on Monday that it had alerted authorities to potentially incomplete inspections on the long-haul jetliner, setting in motion an investigation by the US Federal Aviation Administration. While the latest mishaps don’t create an immediate flight safety issue, they will disrupt factory operations as Boeing conducts tests on aircraft being assembled.
Potentially the most damaging revelation was the suspicion that workers at the factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, may have falsified records to cover up their shortcuts. A review revealed that “several people” had not performed a required test during the wing attachment to the aircraft body, but recorded that work as having been completed, according to Boeing.

Damaging is an inadequate descriptor. The Seattle Times delves even deeper.

Boeing said its engineers have established that this newly discovered 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, S.C., sent a message to all employees there telling them that one worker had noticed the required tests at the wing-to-body join were not being done and spoke up about it internally. His manager informed executives of the lapse.
The latest twist risks worsening a crisis of confidence that has thrown the company into turmoil since a fuselage panel blew off a nearly new 737 Max plane mid-flight on Jan. 5. The FAA’s new probe also comes after whistleblowers told US lawmakers last month that the planemaker prioritizes production rates over safety and quality.
“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 applauded the employees who brought this lapse in quality control to his attention.

“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.” 

This new concern is unrelated to the unsafe 787 fuselage gaps that Boeing whistleblower Sam Salehpour brought to Congress’ attention. This is the same whistleblower who was found dead from an apparent suicide a month later

Salehpour’s attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks issued a statement on this latest charge, and criticized Boeing for creating a culture that has led “its workers to falsify records.”

While Boeing still defends its reputation and the integrity of its operations, these latest allegations continue to fuel the narrative that the company once applauded as the standard bearer in aviation has lost its focus. The entire industry has made the skies more unfriendly, and Boeing and airliners are working to sift through this wreckage.

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