Boeing Defends Safety of 787 Dreamliner After Whistle-Blower’s Claims-ZoomTech News

Boeing sought on Monday to reassure the general public of the protection of its 787 Dreamliner airplane days earlier than a whistle-blower is scheduled to testify earlier than Congress about his considerations concerning the jet’s structural integrity.

In a briefing for reporters on the manufacturing facility in North Charleston, S.C., the place the airplane is assembled, two high Boeing engineers mentioned the corporate had performed exhaustive checks, inspections and analyses of the airplane, each throughout its growth and in recent times, and located no proof that its physique would fail prematurely.

The presentation got here slightly below every week after The New York Instances reported the allegations by the whistle-blower, Sam Salehpour, who works as a high quality engineer at Boeing and is ready to testify earlier than a Senate panel on Wednesday. Mr. Salehpour mentioned that sections of the fuselage of the Dreamliner, a wide-body airplane that makes intensive use of composite supplies, weren’t correctly mounted collectively and that the airplane might endure structural failure over time because of this. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating his allegations.

Mr. Salehpour’s claims immediately created one other public-relations downside for Boeing, which has been dealing with intense scrutiny over its manufacturing practices after a panel got here off a 737 Max throughout an Alaska Airways flight in January.

Mr. Salehpour mentioned that the gaps the place sections of the Dreamliner’s fuselage have been mounted collectively didn’t all the time meet Boeing’s specs, one thing that he mentioned might weaken the plane over time. The Boeing engineers disagreed together with his evaluation, with out naming him. They mentioned the airplane had gone via intensive testing that confirmed that, in about 99 % of circumstances, the gaps met the specs. Even when the gaps exceeded the specs by an affordable quantity, they might not have an effect on the airplane’s sturdiness, the engineers added.

“Not solely did we interrogate these airframes — we have been taking out fasteners, we have been on the lookout for harm, we’re additionally doing the approval inspections to know the construct situation, and we didn’t discover any fatigue points within the composite construction,” mentioned Steve Chisholm, a vice chairman and the useful chief engineer for mechanical and structural engineering at Boeing.

Mr. Chisholm mentioned the corporate had put the Dreamliner via intensive checks that turned up no proof of fatigue within the jet’s composite construction. A 787 airframe was subjected to testing that put it via 165,000 “flight cycles,” the equal pressurization and depressurization of as many flights. That determine far exceeded the airplane’s anticipated life span and the airframe nonetheless confirmed no indicators of fatigue, he mentioned.

The 787 airplane with the very best variety of cycles belongs to a Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, which acquired it in late 2012, in keeping with Boeing. That plane has been via about 16,500 cycles, the corporate mentioned.

In a press release on Monday, Debra S. Katz, a lawyer for Mr. Salehpour, urged warning about accepting Boeing’s assertions in regards to the Dreamliner as reality.

“We can not converse or reply to knowledge that we haven’t seen, however Boeing has all the time mentioned ‘simply belief us’ on the subject of security,” Ms. Katz mentioned. “It’s clear that commonplace is not enough, and any knowledge offered by Boeing must be validated by unbiased specialists and the F.A.A. earlier than it’s taken at face worth.”

Mr. Salehpour is scheduled to testify on Wednesday earlier than the Senate Homeland Safety and Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigations subcommittee. Individually that day, the Senate Commerce Committee is planning to carry a listening to with specialists who have been concerned in producing a current F.A.A. report that faulted Boeing’s security tradition.

Boeing started investigating issues with gaps within the Dreamliner about 5 years in the past, ultimately discovering that some between adjoining elements of the airplane’s physique didn’t meet its personal specs of being lower than five-thousandths of an inch thick. That led the corporate to pause deliveries for about 18 months because it inspected its processes and planes, making modifications the place applicable. That work concerned eradicating 1000’s of fasteners from planes in its stock and inspecting the scale of the hole between the 2 supplies every fastener held collectively.

The corporate mentioned that about 1 % of all gaps inspected failed to satisfy specs. The corporate additionally mentioned that analysis and testing over the previous few years had discovered that the bigger gaps posed no menace to the airplane’s long-term sturdiness.

The corporate famous that 671 Dreamliners had gone via thorough six-year upkeep checks, whereas eight had gone via 12-year checks, and it mentioned that none of these checks discovered any indicators of untimely fatigue. Boeing mentioned it didn’t consider that Dreamliners at present being flown by its prospects have been in want of any modification.

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